Thursday, 4 June, 2009
Head scratching and long meditative pauses; I’m subject to more and more of those these days. The process of disentangling the thicket of clues in the remains of our large building is tedious – but, still, it is the sort of challenge many of us live for. All week we’ve been working to get our figurative arms around this thing, seeking to answer these kinds of questions: What did the building look like? What was it used for? How old is it? How and why was it destroyed? Will we get it right?
Imagine taking apart your neighbor’s compost heap – after it has been turned over with spade a few times – to tease out details of the household’s day-to-day existence. What we’re facing is not a great deal different. We’re confronted with the remains of a big, biodegradable building that has, in fact, thoroughly biodegraded. Then to complicate things further, the site was sliced and diced by a super-plow that prepares areas for pine tree planting.
But, hey, as they say, if you’ve only got lemons – make lemonade. So my goal now is to take advantage of the deep furrows that dissect the site by removing the sediment that has washed into them. In the process we’ll reveal a series of long cross-sections through the deposit that will offer an early glimpse of what we’re dealing with. Already we have a better idea of the thickness of the building-related midden and numerous “features” that exist inside the structure – things like large and small posts. With that information we’ll be better positioned to disassemble the veritable time capsule with a fair degree of control.
Through it all the crew continues to hold up well in spite of the usual tests. One member (who, incidentally, refused my offer of amputation) sports a grotesque case of poison ivy, everyone compares numbers and sizes of bug bites (a perverse brand of one-upmanship at lunchtime), but no one really complains. We recognize we’re privileged to do what we do – and that is the way it should be.