Saturday, June 16

Burro Creek: Flat, No Rocks*

Tineke: So the next transect begins at 3554220 north and -

James: Is that a mountain lion in that tree over there?

Tineke and Jenny: WHAT?!?

Judy: Oh.

James: I think I see a tail kind of swishing around in there...see it?

Tineke: I don't think mountain lions hang out in junipers, do they?

Judy: The last time I saw a mountain lion it was in a juniper.

Jenny: Oh.

Tineke: Well, I don't think that's a mountain lion. It's a piece of bark blowing in the wind.

James: But I can see that tail, kind of swishing around up there. See?

Jenny: Where? I can't see anything. Where, for God's sake, WHERE?

Tineke: You've seen mountain lions?

Judy: I used to herd sheep as a kid on the rez. We had to chase mountain lions away sometimes.

James: Are you sure it's a piece of bark?

Tineke: It's a piece of bark.

Jenny: How do you chase away a mountain lion? Rocks?

James: Are you sure it's not a -

Tineke: Bark.

Jenny: I can't see it. Where's the bark? Are you sure it's bark?

Tineke: 3554220.

Jenny: That puts you right on the line the mountain lion is on.

Tineke: It's not a mountain lion. It's bark.

Judy: Well, I'm glad it's not on my line.


James: That piece of bark is sure swishing around a lot up there. It kind of looks like a tail. See it?


Tineke: Yes.


Although I have taken some artistic liberties, this conversation did, in fact, more-or-less occur during our recent stay in mountain lion country.

While we didn't see any mountain lions for real (although to be fair, no one actually got close enough to the juniper to really put to rest the bark/swishing tail argument), we saw and murdered plenty of other wildlife.

We had a rattlesnake in camp that unfortunately had to lose its life to prevent any of the students (and, presumably, staff, although I never actually heard anyone state that as a fact) from losing theirs. His murder, incidentally, probably also saved the life of our resident packrack, Splinter, thus cranking the circle of life a few degrees further along, which should make everyone feel a little better.

We also, perhaps unsurprisingly, found some archaeology. Like this gorgeous metate fragment:
and a few pretty little mortars:

Nothing spectacular, but the region itself is pretty interesting if you like that kind of thing...and not understood too well yet archaeologically speaking. Especially by me. One thing they got up there that we ain't got here in the low desert is "hillforts". Hillforts are nice because you usually know what they are within minutes, unlike Hohokam sites:

The highest corner of the highest rock on the right-hand side of this picture of a hillfort (below) points directly at Winter Camp, which is the old line shack we called home for two weeks:
We had a pretty lux camp.

My tent was 9 feet tall. It had cup holders. When we got up in the mornings, they would alternately tease us about the dance parties they couldn't get into and our maid who lived upstairs in the attic with the spinning wheel.

The images are a little incongruent, but there you have it: Life at Winter Camp.

Here's another, more realistic, example:

The outhouse -
and the view from the outhouse -

* Not true.


Liv said...

How do you kill a rattlesnake? Just curious.

Jenny said...

Your project director shoots it while you cover your ears and squeal. Usually. (What you can't see in that picture of the rattlesnake is that it is sadly headless. Poor snake.)

For the record, most of the people I know (including me) hate killing snakes and will always avoid it if possible. One crew spray-painted their site-snake bright pink so they wouldn't have to kill it but they'd always know where it was while they were working.

Linda Faye said...

Your tent photo is actually quite beautiful.
What are metates and mortars, please?
Glad the packrat was saved. We have a mama field mouse in our back yard, and I enjoy watching her dutifully seek out dropped bird seed all day long for her litter.It's so hot here, they've moved into the relatively cooler garage. Lola goes crazy in there, trying to find them.
So glad the cougar/bark didn't pick you off, Jenny. I feel your pain, big time.

Jenny said...

Metates are grinding stones used to process things like seeds and corn - like the trough metate here which is more of a familiar shape (we find fragments most often):

The round stone in the same picture is a mano, which is the stone you grind with. Sometimes they're called handstones (mano= hand in Spanish).

A mortar is just like a mortar you'd have in the kitchen for herbs or spices, only these are often ground into rock outcrops or boulders, so they're a little more permananent. You'd use a pestle with it the same way you would making pesto.