Eating Authors: Shauna Roberts

5 comments Written on January 16th, 2012 by
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Shauna Roberts

Hello, and welcome. You’re just in time for another round of asking authors about their favorite meals. This weekly feature was inspired by my protagonist, the Amazing Conroy, who in addition to being a stage hypnotist is also very much a foodie.

Today’s guest is Shauna Roberts, a Clarion graduate, a fellow Hadley Rille Books author, as well as card carying Ph.D. in anthropology. Shauna’s been publishing short fiction since 2002, and her first novel, Like Mayflies in a Stream, came out in 2009 as part of HRB’s archaeology series.

To the best of my addled recollection, Shauna and I have never met (let alone shared a meal), but our respective travels have had us living in pretty much the same places (Philadelphia, Chicago, southern California), albeit in different years. Plus, I always enjoy checking in with other academicians-turned-authors; so let’s get to it and let her tell us about her most memorable meal!

LMS: Shauna, if you would, please relate for the folks at home the best meal you’ve ever had.

SR: It was 95 in the shade—95° Fahrenheit and 95% humidity. And we weren’t in the shade, but out in the open sun on an Indian mound shoveling like maniacs, because progress, in the form of the new Highway 675 bypass around Dayton, Ohio, may wait for archaeologists, but only briefly and impatiently.

The Boss was a short but beefy man who turned lobster red in the sun and could put the rest of the crew to shame in how fast he could dig and how heavy a load of dirt he could push in a wheelbarrow. Lanky PK (Preacher’s Kid), also called Hilljack because he was from West Virginia, was an artist who did construction work and worked on archaeological digs to pay the bills. He too could wield a mean wheelbarrow. Of the rest of the dig crew, I was by far the smallest person. I was also the only woman for most of the summer, at a time (1977) when some archaeologists would not hire women, and some of the crew were skeptical that I could keep up with the men.

Like Mayflies in a Stream

I needed to prove myself. I made sure to always shovel as fast and as hard as everyone else, and I filled my wheelbarrows as full as the smallest guy did. Meanwhile, the temperature crept higher and higher. The Boss said that any day it reached 100°, we could take the rest of the day off, but that only happened once. Most days it hit 99° and stuck there, and we kept digging, pushing wheelbarrows, and sifting dirt under the blazing sun, with the bare dirt reflecting back on us the sunlight that missed us the first time.

When lunchtime came, I’d grab a wheelbarrow before anyone else could and roll it under a tree where there was some shade. I would refill my canteen from a huge plastic jug of water that The Boss brought each morning. I’d get out my bag lunch and open up a sandwich with peanut butter and jelly melting out of it.

Those lunches were the best meals I ever had. The water may have been warm and plastic flavored, but thirsty as I was, it didn’t matter. The water tasted as sweet and refreshing as anything I’d ever drunk before or since. And hungry as I was, my goopy, dripping sandwiches seemed heavenly. Afterward, I would curl up inside the wheelbarrow and take a nap until it was time to start work again.

Of all the condiments, hard work may be the best.

Thanks, Shauna. Reading your account, I’m tempted to start asking authors about their favorite sandwiches. Hmmm…

Next Monday: Another author and another meal!

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5 comments “Eating Authors: Shauna Roberts”

I always enjoy these, Lawrence. “Of all the condiments, hard work may be the best.” 

Shauna, this one brought back memories! Thanks.

Thanks, Lawrence, for the chance to visit at your blog.

The pleasure is mine, Shauna. Thanks for dropping by!

Takes me back to my days hauling hay and how we drank out of a plastic milk jug and ate bolgne sandwiches sitting in the shade by the side of the truck. Brings back fond memories now. I couldn’t work that hard today.


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