Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 9

Clearing wildflowers of overgrowth, an unexpected perk: a box turtle encounter.

had dragged side limbs and brush
part way down the slope. Now I
wanted it farther away, down at the
edge of the woods. To clear the way
to its final destination, I took my mattock to multiflora rose I'd allowed to
gain more than a toehold in the periwinkle carpet that grew there.
Below where the trees begin, my
land descends steeply to a trickling
stream that marks my northern
boundary. An old road once ran
down the ravine to the railroad and
river. When Marsh and Etta Putnam
lived in my house, he rode his horse
down the road to carry the mail
between the railroad and the
Bandana community post office.
After I moved in I'd followed what
remained of the road down to
"Whale Rock," at the river's edge,
where Bandana's youth once were
baptized. Water and multiflora rose
have almost erased the road; and my
taste for bushwhacking is now pretty
limited. Still, on one of my brushdragging afternoons, I got a sudden
urge, if not to fight my way to the
river, at least to explore the wooded
part of my land. In particular, I
wanted to find a rock outcrop part
way down the ravine where wild ginger and my only patch of hepatica
once grew. But how to get down
there? My attention focused then on

a deer trail through the periwinkle, a
narrow brown track where last year's
leaves, blown about by winter winds,
had snagged and been trampled. The
trail traversed the slope gently
downhill.
That trail fed into another - and
another. The hillside was netted with
them. I might have abandoned the
lower half of my acre, but the deer
hadn't. Following the trails I switchbacked down to the outcrop. There,
tucked between the sheltering roots
of a beech tree, was a little clump of
hepatica. Hepatica blooming - as this
clump was - was one of my mother's
favorite signs of spring; she always
looked for it, the way I look for trout
lilies. I hadn't realized how sure I'd
been that - like so much else I've treasured in my lifetime - it would be
gone. But it wasn't.
Right in that moment, I realized
that the deer that regularly ravage
my daylilies, hostas and new growth
on my treasured raspberries aren't
always my enemy. On my difficult-tonavigate hillside, they'd blazed trails I
could follow, even improve upon.
I've returned since then with pruners
to make my passage along the trails
easier. Lying in bed, I think with
unaccustomed gratitude of my deer
collaborators passing silently below
me. One of their trails leads through

a forest of buckeye saplings I want
to remove, below my smokehouse
and garden. For now, though, I'm
working along two of their trails in
what I think of as my nascent wildflower garden, an area where trout
lily, violets, toothwort, wood anemone, wild geranium, wood phlox and
mayapple grow.
In early morning I don a longsleeved shirt and gloves to fill a daily
quota of two recycled leaf bags with
the poison ivy, honeysuckle and multiflora roses slowly choking the wildflowers. Clearing around a tall tulip
poplar one late April morning, I
uncovered my first box turtle of the
year under a clump of Christmas fern
whose fronds were then unfurling. I
moved him to a sunny spot, went
back to work, and kept an eye on
him. Eventually he unhinged his trapdoor shell and peered out, red-eyed
and cautious. He wasn't the ancient
male I always look for, a turtle one of
my neighbors marked with his initials
and the date. Still, I thought I recognized this fellow, with his pronounced beak and bright orange
skin. Dirt smeared below his nostrils
made me wonder whether he'd dug
out of his underground winter lair the
day before. After awhile he bumped
along downhill, into the woods, not
on a deer trail.
Encountering him got me to
thinking about MG 75, the marked
turtle, and the man who marked
him. Maurice Gibson was one of
Marsh and Etta Putnam's grandsons.
Like MG 75, Maurice wandered the
woods and occasionally showed up
in my clearing. He lived to a ripe old
age, but not so long as his grandparents. Though Marsh Putnam was in
good health on his 69th wedding
anniversary, he died in December of
the following year, two months short
of his 91st birthday. Etta survived
him by 11 years, succumbing in
January, 1964, at age 96. Twelve
years later I took their place in this
house, on this ridge, and set to work
in their garden. 
JULY/AUGUST 2014 | 9



Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014

Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014
Table of Contents
Print to Mobile
From the Editor
From the Farm
Festivals & Events
The Hike
Creature Feature
Mountain Report
Country Roads
Potomac Highlands Adventures
Get Up Early! Great Farm Vacations
Saving Mabry Mill
Photo Essay: Mountain Skies
Signature Mountain Dishes
Waterfront Living
Mountain Garden
Cabin in the Woods: Canaan Resort
Guest Column
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - Cover2
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - Table of Contents
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 4
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - Print to Mobile
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - From the Editor
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 7
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - From the Farm
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 9
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - Festivals & Events
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 11
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 12
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 13
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 14
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 15
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - The Hike
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 17
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - Creature Feature
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - Mountain Report
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - Country Roads
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 21
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 22
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 23
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - Potomac Highlands Adventures
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 25
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 26
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 27
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 28
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 29
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 30
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 31
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 32
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 33
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - Get Up Early! Great Farm Vacations
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 35
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 36
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 37
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - Saving Mabry Mill
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 39
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 40
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 41
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - Photo Essay: Mountain Skies
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 43
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 44
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 45
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - Signature Mountain Dishes
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 47
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 48
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 49
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 50
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 51
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 52
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 53
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - Waterfront Living
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 55
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 56
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 57
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 58
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 59
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 60
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 61
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 62
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 63
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 64
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 65
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 66
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 67
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 68
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 69
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 70
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 71
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 72
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - Mountain Garden
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 74
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 75
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 76
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 77
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - Cabin in the Woods: Canaan Resort
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 79
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 80
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - 81
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - Guest Column
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - Cover3
Blue Ridge Country - July/August 2014 - Cover4
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