Stories from the Field: Back in the Mac.

** To celebrate the Alberta September field season, it’s shortening days and industry tempers, I give you a little tidbit of it here. For those of you in archaeology, may you have good food, good company, and good digging soil.

After a year of being away, after a week of being sick, Yvonne is back in the Mac. Fort McMurray, that is. Somethings never change. There is still construction on the bridge. People still drive like idiots. There is an inordinate amount of white trucks. And a trip out of town isn’t complete without a detour through the suburb of Thickwood.

Maybe getting back out into the field was a good thing. Her supervisor didn’t believe that she was sick and was nagging Yvonne daily to get to Fort Mac to start her fieldwork. In the field, Yvonne has no cell phone reception and must keep the satellite phone reserved for emergencies ONLY. It’s lovely being cut off from civilisation sometimes.

However, it is unclear whether or not Mother Nature missed Yvonne. If she has, she has a strange way of showing her affection. Last night in the bath, Yvonne counted 19 bruises on her legs (mostly on the right leg), 12 horsefly and blackfly bites on her arms, and today has counted at least four fly bites on her neck (those are the ones she can see). All the bruises are large, individual, and very distinct (including the bruise surrounding a small deadfall injury which drew blood), and all fly bites are swollen, inflamed, and itchy. Her crew has a daily ritual of applying anti-itch cream to all their assorted fly bites — it’s something akin to a line of baboons grooming each other. There are times when a crew of all females is a good thing.

To top things off, Yvonne and her crew haven’t found a damn thing. Okay, so it’s been a year of abstinence, but consulting archaeology isn’t something you forget (even if you wanted to). It’s kind of a simple methodology: wherever you would want to camp is generally where people in the past camped. Either that methodology isn’t working in the Birch Mountains or there weren’t any people camping here. Or…..Yvonne has lost her touch.

It’s been six days of +12 hour days. Yvonne is already tired and she has over a week left. Tomorrow they have to be at the airport for 5am to do their daily 45 min flight to their work site. Needless to say, tomorrow will be an early day.

Will Yvonne leave the forest intact? Will Yvonne and her crew find a site? Has Yvonne encountered a new level of scarring induced by archaeology consulting?

Stay tuned!

** If you have an archaeological field story, share! Use the contact form on the “About/Contact” page. It’s good to commiserate and educate.

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