March 15th, a beautiful spring afternoon, found eleven people gathered in the Bridgewater library to listen to and watch Marcia Mabee talk about the journey she has taken since she and her first husband bought Naked Mountain in Nelson County in 1988. Jerry Hopkins, Mike Smith (a Virginia Native Plant Society member), Ann Murray, Eric Jones, Chris Bowlen, Art Vasy, Judy Tammi, RoxAnna Theiss, Elaine Smith, and Dwayne and Pat Martin were in attendance. Scones and sassafras tea treats were provided by RoxAnna. The Ides of March technical difficulties were overcome with the assistance of Eric Jones, just in the nick of time!
In the 1980s Marcia and her husband were self-described Northern Virginia “know nothings” when they decided they wanted a weekend getaway and buying a mountain seemed like a good idea. At first they would spend one weekend night in a truck camper, but eventually they built a small house near the top of the mountain. Gradually the mountain revealed its secrets to them, and Marcia became an avid student of nature. With the help of many experts, she learned that Naked Mountain is part of the Great Amphibolite Dike. Amphibolite is composed of calcium and magnesium and one of its main features is that is promotes biodiversity. Marcia soon found fringetrees, Canada milkvetch (Astragalus Canadensis), fame flower and shooting stars (Primula meadia), the first found in Nelson County. This spurred much interest in the mountain and experts from multiple disciplines were eager to survey the property. The globally rare Torrey’s mountainmint was found and consequently the mountain was declared a Virginia Natural Area Preserve.
Marcia’s Naked Mountain: A Memoir is due out in September. It promises to be fascinating reading.
– Elaine Smith, Cohort IV, March 2016
Photos by Elaine Smith