Alexandra Norwood, Arizona State University
To me, field school has been all about new experiences. New isn’t always better and adjustment has been, in large part, learning to love some part of any situation. There have been struggles: frustration when the excavators in other units find artifacts and I only find centipedes, moths getting into my tent at night, and worrying so much about my outreach project that I ended up crying behind a Laundromat in Silver City (not my finest hour…). Despite these moments of discomfort, I have been generally awestruck by the amazing and sometimes entirely novel things I get to do here.
Julie, our cook, makes burritos and wraps them up in foil for us to take into the field. We’ve affectionately dubbed them “dashboard burritos” after our method of heating them up for lunch. We joke and call them “D-double Bs” as we grab them from the truck window and head to our shady lunch spot.
I finally figured out an outreach project: making dye by extracting pigment from black walnuts. I had to reduce them, and then Allen, Dushyant, and Alec joined in with their own experimental projects. Soon there was a comal in the oven and pots of beeweed and walnut boiling on the stove. Other people walking through the kitchen either ask what we are doing or don’t notice that anything is odd.
There is an area down by Mule Creek that has a bit of sand and has thus been aptly named “The Beach.” It’s not exactly the kind of beach I’m used to from growing up in LA, but it is a good place to go at night after tiring work days to relax and watch the sunset (and maybe come up with a weird game involving tossing rocks at each other or at markers in the distance). We can all find a small respite there despite being grumpy and exhausted on difficult days.
I love showering outside under an open sky, watching the sunrise every morning, and cutting up walnuts with stone tools, even if I’m dirty and tired and my hands are stained black. I’ve learned to appreciate a new kind of normal and even though everything is strange, at least it’s never boring.