Ferry Farm field school officially ended on Friday, and it was a bittersweet farewell. The day began with a final test on ceramics, which I passed with flying colors! After that we were all given the option to stay and work in the field if we wanted to. I chose to stay, along with many of the other VCU students and my old digging partner, Jason. Before we could start working, however, every student and intern was invited down to the river to engage in the old Ferry Farm tradition of throwing rocks across the Rappahannock River.
This tradition derives from an old story in which George Washington, as a young boy on Ferry Farm, threw a rock all the way across the Rappahannock to the other side. People have been trying to recreate this feat ever since, and to the best of my knowledge the only record of someone actually making it was a Union Soldier during the Civil War. Nearly everyone tried their hand and failed, but we had great fun doing it! Then, one of the VCU students, Ian, began throwing them and landed the first few rocks just a couple of feet from the opposite shore. We all cheered as he tried again and again, always barely missing it, until one last time when he got a particularly strong running start and then hurled it as far as he possibly could. We waited anxiously as it flew, hoping that this one would just make it at least as far as the last, until it finally smacked into the ground on the other side! We couldn’t believe it, and just as the excitement was dying down and we all started walking away, he did it again! It was quite the spectacle!
We all returned to our units shortly after that and continued digging. The mood remained light and fun as Jason and I got through the rest of our plowzone, which yielded some very nice pieces of ceramic and other historic artifacts. Just as we were leveling it off, however, there was a loud crack of thunder and we were forced to pack up for the day. Before we left, our assistant field supervisor, James, thanked us all for our hard work and dedication during the past five weeks, which meant a lot to all of us. On my way out I turned in my volunteer forms and said goodbye to everyone. It was hard to leave, but it helped to know that I’ll be returning soon.
I spent the evening with my friends at a restaurant in Fredericksburg, where we celebrated our completion of field school and our last night in town together. On Saturday morning I packed up my belongings and drove home. I can’t believe how quickly this all went by, and how much I have gained from it along the way!
This field school has been such an incredible experience for me. I have learned so much, met so many wonderful people, and been to some really spectacular places that I never would have traveled to on my own. I have also gained a lot of confidence in myself and in my potential, which I never would have discovered if I had not come here.
I want to thank everyone who has shared this experience with me, and assure you that this is not the end! I am going to continue writing about my experiences in the field over the summer, and about all of the adventures that lie ahead of me in the future. I am so grateful that I was able to come to Ferry Farm, as it has opened up a world of opportunities to me. This is just the beginning of a wonderful journey, so stay tuned!
(My last two finds as a field school student at Ferry Farm.)