Summer time is the busy time around here. As soon as school was out at the end of may, I headed to Yellowstone via Wall South Dakota as a tagalong on the Grandparent trip for my youngest 2 kiddoes. Every year for the last 4 years my parents have taken 2 of their grandchildren on a cross-country adventure. This time they felt Grant was too young to go without his parents, so Darren and I got to come along.
We were home for a couple of days, just enough to wash and repack everybody. Then I kissed Darren goodbye and took the kids to Lamoni, Iowa for reunion. I think other denominations might call it family camp or camp meeting. It was a week of living as families in University dorms. We had prayer and testimony service and classes every day, time for recreation in the afternoon, and powerful music and preaching in the evening. It’s a time to rest from the cares of the world and get a fresh perspective on our Christian walk. The leaders encouraged us to stay off the internet to keep apart from the influence and cares of the world. I had to get on a little to make sure the meal plans went out on time and take care of customer service issues, but for the most part I tried to rest.
The day reunion ended, I filled my mom’s car with 5 of my kids and all their stuff and sent them back home. My 14 year old son and I headed east to an archeological dig in Nauvoo, Illinois. He’s at the age where he’s trying to make some decisions about a career and education. At first he wanted to be a novelist, so we homeschooled his 8th grade year with the One Year Adventure Novel program. It was a great program but showed him that he prefers to write for a hobby and not to make a career of it. When he mentioned archeology as his next choice for careers, I used some connections to join the end of a dig unearthing an 1840’s home foundation and artifacts.
He’s still trying to unpack the experience and see if it’s a career option he wants to pursue, but it was super interesting to learn about all the different aspects of the dig.
Last year it took the team most of their month long dig to locate the foundation of the home. It was a lot of digging to find nothing and trying again to get just the right location. This year they were able to get started right away in the correct position and make progress. By the time we arrived they had found 3 of the 4 walls of the home and the 4th wall was uncovered while we worked.
We found things like flatware, scissors, square sewing pins, marbles, square nails, china and other earthenware, glassware, cast iron cookware, animal bones, teeth, fossils, buttons, and a cast iron trivet for a clothing iron.
Each 5 foot square was dug down 2 inches at a time. The diggers would gently scrape the soil to protect any artifacts that might be hidden beneath. The loosened soil would go into red scoops (we called them fire trucks) and sent over to the sifters.
Another team member (ahem–me, so hot and sweaty) would rub the dirt through a screen and look for smaller artifacts that might have been missed by the diggers. All artifacts were placed in a green scoop labeled with a sticky note to show the quadrant and soil level it was found in, then sent over to be washed with a soft brush and clear water.
Then the artifacts were carefully dried and sent to the head archeologist, Paul Debarthe who would identify and document each piece in a database.
Finally the documented pieces were sent to the restoration lab, where Synthia glued pieces back together for display. It is the team’s end goal to rebuild the home just as it stood in 1840 and display the artifacts inside.
It felt awesome to play a part in recovering history, but it was also a dirty, sweaty, exhausting job. Caleb and I only dug 3 days with the team. Most of them were there for a solid month!