I spent the day yesterday digging in my garden. This of course, in itself, is rather unremarkable. It is also an inauspicious beginning to a blog about the arts in Calgary. So maybe I should explain why it actually makes sense and why I would start on such a banal and uninteresting subject.
My garden is full of rocks. I don’t believe anyone has actually placed a shovel into this plot of ground that I call home – for decades. So as a result, the more I dig – the more rocks I find. But, in amongst those rocks, I will find bits and pieces that require a second glance. Random pieces of history that in themselves are not very interesting. Quite frankly, most would consider them to be garbage – myself included.
I have been digging in my garden for years. However, this part of the garden is an untouched area where I want to plant flowers next year. It is hard work that is often unrewarding. But, like many things in life, hard work is often a necessary element to create the conditions for future success.
What visible reminder I have to show for all this hard work, is a vast collection of rocks. Big, small and everything in between. It is not really a collection I want to keep, but it reminds me of the progress that comes from doing all this back-breaking work over the past couple years.
When I pick a bean off the stalk, dig out an onion for supper, or pluck a couple tomatoes to give to a friend, I am reminded that hard work is necessary. But in that hard work, is the key to its own reward.
So, when we look at this random collection of items dug out of the ground yesterday, what do we learn from it?
We can see that someone broke a Coke bottle; someone had a painted ceramic pot that broke; a pressed glass container was once here; and there were a couple different types of plates that people used (blue and white and another with rings around the plate).
In amongst those things, we also find things that provide keys to knowing more about the history of both the built history and its occupants. We see that there was stucco on the exterior walls at one time; someone in the past worked for the railway as they brought home a pin used on the rails that probably fell out of their coveralls (this confirms prior research); and that there were children here based on the marble which was left behind.
As a friend connected to the university, stated at some point during the three days that he was evacuated in the June floods and stayed with me – archaeologists love these type of things. They help us figure out how we as a society developed and also discern more out the people who came before us.
That is one of the things I want to do with this blog – search amongst the rocky ground of our cultural landscape and find interesting things.