I didn’t always want to be a writer–I had other plans for my future. For a long time, I wanted to be an archaeologist. I remember digging up bits of old pottery from the rock pile behind the sheds. Finding a particularly colorful piece, I imagined some woman’s sadness about her favorite vase being broken.
My greatest archaeological discovery was a small arrowhead that I found in the pickle patch when I was twelve. My brother and sister insist the only reason I found it was that I was too busy looking at rocks to pick pickles.
Seeing the Indiana Jones movies in high school fueled my desires–so much so that when I went away to college, I ended up with the nickname “Indiana Emy.” As it happens, my journey took me in another direction, and I never did find much more than that treasured arrowhead.
But last fall, an archaeological dig took place at the original site of the Mather Inn. And I missed it! A real archaelogist dug up shards of flow-blue pottery, and old nails, and even an entire jug, intact. By the time I visited in October, the dig site had been covered back up. But as I kicked about the site I spied a bit of white shining in the sun. Not an arrowhead, but a broken shard of pottery. Perhaps a bit off a plate, a platter, or a chamberpot from the Mather Inn. Somehow that little bit of physical evidence brought our Plank Road story closer to life. Florence and Katie are fictional characters, but the Mather Inn was real. Meals had been eaten, teamsters had been served, dishes had been washed.
I’m glad there are people at work, digging up bits of the past for us. And though I’m not one of them, maybe my writing can help preserve the past as well.