As International Archaeology Day (October 15, 2016) approaches, we’re celebrating by sharing posts about what we’re working on now—the daily work of archaeology. But the author of today’s very special post, we’re happy to note, is, for once, NOT working!
(October 7, 2016)—On this day in 1975, Linda Mayro and I were married at the church right across the street from what is known today as the Haury Building—then the home of the University of Arizona’s Anthropology Department, now the School of Anthropology. That makes today our 41st anniversary. So, not surprisingly, the special person noted in my blog title is—Linda Mayro.
Unlike many previous anniversaries, my plan for today is to take the day off. On more than one previous wedding anniversary, Archaeology Southwest has held some sort of evening special event. When it came time for me to address the crowd, I have more than once started with special thanks to a very patient person who was also in attendance—my wife. So, part of what I plan to do today is to reflect on how much this special person means to me—on a personal and a professional level. I’d like to share some of the professional story with the world.
Linda and I met in our first year of graduate school at the U of A. She earned her M.A. in 1974 and worked as a project director at the Arizona State Museum until late 1978, when we moved to Santa Barbara to take private-sector jobs. We worked together for three years in California and for another six years after we returned to Tucson, developing our professional philosophies in close tandem between 1973 and 1988. We have applied those philosophies in separate professional settings since 1988.
Now, here’s the story of the first special place—the Valencia site—a Hohokam ballcourt village on Tucson’s south side. In 1982, I initiated a field project along a road that had been bladed through the site. That work led to me preparing a nomination to the National Register of Historic Places in the hope that it would help achieve long-term preservation for the site. It was indeed listed on the Register in 1985. After Linda began her employment with Pima County as their archaeologist, she worked to raise the county’s commitments to archaeological preservation. Ultimately, Pima County developed bond proposals to protect archaeological sites. Fortunately, those early bonds were approved by large margins by voters. Via bond funds and a successful application to the state of Arizona’s “Growing Smarter” funds, Pima County was able to purchase 67 acres of the Valencia site in 2010 to permanently protect it. This was teamwork over decades, with the lead passing between us.
The second special place is the Romero Ruin and its surroundings in Catalina State Park north of Tucson. Although we began to explore this place before Linda went to work for Pima County, it especially caught my attention. In 1986 we (that is, the ancestor organization to Archaeology Southwest) organized tours of Romero during Archaeology Week, and we launched our membership program and our first issue of what has become the Archaeology Southwest Magazine, which has published continuously for over three decades. The park has always been a place where I have gone for close-to-home renewal and reflection. In 2013 and 2014 I spent more than 210 hours on weekends and holidays revisiting known sites, exploring unsurveyed areas, and mapping some amazing agricultural systems around Romero Ruin. The incredible development of hand-held mapping technology made it possible for one person to do the work of a very large team—and to consider it recreation, rather than work! Catalina State Park is, in fact, the place I intend to visit today on my day of reflection.
Unfortunately, my wife will not be joining me on this sojourn in the park. She is at the office laboring long hours trying to bring together some of the critical elements that will ensure the long-term viability of the County’s Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan. But I don’t plan to go out alone today. I have another good friend who is as attached to Catalina State Park as much as I am—Snoop Dog.
Snoop Dog came to us from the Southern Arizona Beagle Rescue group. He has actually spent a lot more time trekking though Catalina State Park than my wife has. It is special to him—in his own “live-in-the-now” way. So, today, Snoop Dog and I will head out together to see if there is water in the rock tanks to the south of the Romero Ruin. We will walk along a trail that passes through the remarkable agricultural system that I mapped over seven long days back in 2014. I was amazed at how much emerged as I applied that intense focus that fieldwork requires on tracing subtle rock alignments across a landscape that was modified by human labor about a millennium ago. It is grown over and modified by cattle grazing, wildlife and rainfall, and increasingly by the visitors to Catalina State Park. But the traces are still there, revealed to the attentive observer.
As I walk through this landscape with Snoop, I will keep an eye out for rattlesnakes, Gila monsters, and other wildlife. I will think back on long days when my personal perception of time was eclipsed by an intense focus on my immediate tasks of seeing, interpreting, mapping. I will think about all the forgiveness I have received, without asking, from Linda for my “all archaeology, all the time” lifestyle. I will reflect on how much my life has been enriched by sharing a personal and a professional life with such a wonderful person. I will celebrate that this place has been preserved and is experienced by so many diverse visitors every year. And I will appreciate that I can share this special place one more time with my aging friend, Snoop Dog. I anticipate that today will be a very special day for me. And for that I am very thankful.
Happy Anniversary, Linda.