Musings on Quarantine Activities
By: Isaac St. John
Quarantine is quite the thing for mental and physical health. Knowing that you cannot go out and do the things you’d like to do shows you just how much time we spend on fluff to keep the days busy, at least for professionals. But, luckily for me, my field excels at busy work, with reports and notes to review. This allows for vicarious outdoor living through field notes, reading and trying to figure out how a site was orientated or how many test pits were dug.
Counting down the days until I am able to get out into the field and walk the sites that I am reading about keeps me going through these first-world hard times, where I can’t interact with people, but have all the comforts of home. Luckily, that very dog that made the trip up north with me is the quarantine companion I keep, so we both don’t go insane without contact. Whenever the words make me drowsy, she is there to pep me up; whenever a site doesn’t quite make sense, she is there as a nap companion; and when an artifact catalogue doesn’t quite grab my attention, sitting outside with her, while still being social distant, focuses my mind.
But not all is doom and gloom in quarantine; with all the time I have now to read, I do so. Without having to go into an office or sit in a car for any amount of time a day, I have more time to devote to analysis. Looking at language present in the reports in regards to sites and people really tells a story about what the attitude of the time was, regarding my people, the Wabanaki, specifically the Maliseet. Looking at topics in a current lens allows us to see the change in people and aspects, either for good or for bad. Regarding people as people is, generally speaking, good, while not accepting that the people that lived on the land being studied are still around is generally bad. It is nice to see that the reports I am currently reading are of the former camp and not the latter, as the people working on them at the time had some connection to the people and places they were studying. A vested interest in the people themselves and not just what they created can go a long way in humanizing a group. Science and the humanities haven’t always been so forgiving and equal footed with the people they have studied, so the history has been rocky at best for those being studied and faith in the studies. As I sit here in my uncomfortable office chair, I am comforted by the idea that no matter what time and place, there will be some people that see the human in the subject and try to make it better for them in some way.