In 1864, Union and Confederate armies endured a long winter on opposite sides of the Rapidan River in Virginia. But spring was not a welcome thought, as the Civil War entered its fourth year. The thaw would mean battle and bloodshed, not warmth and spring blooms.
When Union troops, under the command of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, seized the river crossings at Germanna Ford and Ely Ford on May 4, 1864, it marked the beginning of the final engagement between Grant and Gen. Robert E. Lee. It would culminate in Lee’s surrender at Appomattox on April 9, 1865.
The first time I tried to go to Shenk’s Ferry, I nearly endangered my family.
The four of us — me, my husband, my then-6-year-old and my 9-month-old — were heading to Lancaster County, PA, for our annual farm stay vacation (see Bay Journeys, July 2012). I’d heard about this beautiful wildflower preserve on the way, and I thought it would make a great place for a picnic.
Henry David Thoreau, in his essay “Walking,” wrote: “In wildness is the preservation of the world.”
That quote, combined with lots of time exploring the great outdoors, inspired me at a young age to appreciate wildlife and wild places and set me on a path to work to save them.
Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum in Calvert County, MD, has expansive open fields along its waterfront that are very hard to resist.
Visitors arrive on a wooded drive that ends on a graceful tree-lined road. Just beyond, paths travel along slightly rolling fields to the river. Like a layered scene taking you steadily farther away from whatever daily bustle you would like to escape, the Patuxent River shoreline beckons.
At the request of their guide, John Mays of Twin River Outfitters, the paddlers pulled over to a scrap of beach on the James River just below a short cobble-strewn rapid. Across the river, a floodplain abutted the steep rise of a mountain.
Buchanan, VA, was only a few bends upriver, but it already seemed like another world.
The paddling trip is like any other. There’s orientation, a scramble for gear and boat checks as everyone readies for a trip on the James River from the Hardware River down to New Canton, VA.
But the van for the shuttle carries more than changes of clothes and car keys. It’s full of the wheelchairs and braces that belong to the students, all participants in the adaptive paddling program at Wintergreen Resort.
Wintergreen Adaptive Sports is one of a growing number of programs that put disabled people on the water, people who never imagined they’d paddle their own boat or sail on the Bay.
Carvers at the Crossroads
The stories and connections between early 20th-century carvers of the Chesapeake’s Susquehanna Flats will be told through artifacts, photographs and decoys at an exhibit opening April 12 at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels, MD.
The Susquehanna Flats were a mecca for waterfowl hunting in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
I got the seed of this story years ago from a bunch of wild tundra swans that had flown here from Alaska to winter along the remote Marshyhope Creek on the Delmarva Peninsula.
It was late afternoon, early March, chill but still and sunny enough to get me pedaling. Near the village of Eldorado in Dorchester County, I began seeing flight after flight of the birds heading across a huge expanse of unbroken forest.