Queen of the Air

Amelia Earhart, George Putnam and their high-flying love affair

By Bill Case

They called it an autogiro. This unusual flying machine was something of a hybrid between an airplane and a helicopter. Like an airplane, it possessed wings and a propeller. But the wings were so stubby, they seemed a design afterthought. While resembling a helicopter with its horizontal rotary blades whirling atop, the aircraft was powered differently. It did not fly very fast — typically 80 miles per hour — and held only enough fuel to safely fly two hours at a stretch. But, flown by a proficient pilot, it could take off and land in an area no bigger than a suburban back yard. Before November 11, 1931, it is doubtful anyone in Moore County had observed, in flight, an aircraft requiring virtually no runway for its operation. That was one reason why on an Armistice Day mid-afternoon, well over 1000 people flocked to the dirt and grass airstrip known as Knollwood Field (now Moore County Airport) to hail the arrival of an autogiro.

Despite its novelty, such a sighting wouldn’t ordinarily have created such a stir that stores and schools in Pinehurst, Southern Pines, and Aberdeen would close. The pilot flying the aircraft was the one causing most of the hubbub — 34-year-old Amelia Earhart, one of the most famous women in America.

It had already been a long Armistice Day for the slender Kansas native. At daybreak, she had flown out of Charlotte, piloting her ungainly aircraft two hours east before setting down in a field five miles north of Fayetteville. Wearing the leather jacket, scarf, jodhpurs, and boots she typically donned in the air, Earhart was whisked by a welcoming committee into Fayetteville’s downtown by open car. There she was feted by thousands of adoring citizens who cheered the waving pilot as she slowly passed by.

At the conclusion of the parade, the soft-spoken but confident Earhart addressed an all-ears crowd at Fayetteville’s Market House, even putting in a good word for the Beech-Nut Packing Company’s chewing gum. George P. Putnam, a promotional genius who was newly wedded to Amelia, had arranged for Beech-Nut to sponsor her three 1931 hopscotching autogiro tours. The company’s emblem was prominently emblazoned on the fuselage. All the fuss in Fayetteville had put her behind schedule as the throng at Knollwood Field waited impatiently to catch sight of Earhart’s “flying windmill” on the horizon.

This was the famous aviator’s first visit to Moore County, though her husband was no stranger to the Sandhills. Dorothy Binney Putnam, George’s ex-wife, had spent considerable time here. In fact, until Earhart’s recent marriage to Putnam, she and Dorothy had enjoyed a close friendship, sharing among many things their mutual love of the outdoors. Elegant and statuesque, Dorothy’s affection for the wilderness had been kindled during family vacations near Carthage where in 1901, her father Edwin Binney, the founder and inventor of Crayola Crayons, had purchased a 1,300-acre plantation deep in the pine forest. The property featured a rambling antebellum plantation house with a second floor balcony that provided a magnificent view of the home’s surroundings. The spread was called “Binneywood.” It is uncertain why Connecticut-based Edwin selected Carthage for a vacation home though it probably had something to do with the proximity of the North Carolina mining operations that supplied raw materials for Crayola.

Dorothy Putnam had regaled Earhart with tales of the wonderful times she and her two sisters had enjoyed at Binneywood. Dorothy’s diary entry during the 1908 Christmas season at Binneywood describes an eventful and festive holiday atmosphere: “Up at dawn to go wild turkey hunting. Home at nine, then chopped trees, then quail hunting-good luck. Made fudge and sipped chocolate by fire.”

Despite the estate’s remoteness and their status as seasonal residents, Edwin Binney, known as Bub, and his wife became integral members of the Carthage community. They farmed, planted a peach orchard, reactivated the estate’s milling operation, and hosted country dances at Binneywood featuring rousing strains of banjoes and fiddles.

A particularly splendid event happened at the old plantation during the Christmastime of 1910 when Dorothy, a Wellesley grad, and George Putnam, whom she had met during a two-month western camping trip, announced their engagement. They married the following October. The newly wedded couple spent an extended honeymoon in Central America. Like Earhart, the two adventurers reveled in experiencing exotic and unfamiliar surroundings. The trip inspired Putnam to author his first book, The Southland of North America, with his new wife eagerly collaborating.

Then 24, Putnam had not yet joined the family’s renowned publishing concern, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, deciding instead to publish and edit the Bend Bulletin, a newspaper in faraway Bend, Oregon. It was an ideal place for the Putnams to begin their married life, indulging their penchant for the outdoors with horseback rides and camping trips into the recesses of the Cascade Mountains. Putnam proved to be an independent newspaperman and an advocate for progress by penning editorials urging that women be afforded the vote. He was even elected the town’s mayor. Dorothy also became a force in Bend’s civic life, raising funds for causes ranging from the Red Cross to fighting cancer. A tireless advocate for women’s suffrage, in 1912 she became the second female (after the governor’s wife) to vote in Oregon.

The Putnams’ first child, David Binney Putnam, was born in 1913. Soon thereafter, they moved to Salem, Oregon’s capital, where he took a post as secretary to the state’s governor while still retaining his position as the Bulletin’s publisher. During World War I, Putnam enlisted in the army which resulted in the couple’s moving to Washington, D.C. After his father died, Putnam decided to join the family business and they relocated to Rye, New York where Dorothy bore a second son, George, Jr. (“Junie”) in 1921.

Ensconced with G.P. Putnam’s Sons, George’s career skyrocketed as he became the company’s go-to spokesman. He was increasingly away on an unceasing quest to unearth new stories. Longing for adventures of her own, Dorothy seized the opportunity to travel with son David on a 10-week oceanographic expedition to the South Seas of the Pacific in 1925. She reveled in her role as a scientist on the voyage while 12-year-old David recorded a narrative of his experiences that Putnam published under the title David Goes Voyaging. The book was a surprising hit.

The elder Putnam embarked on his own expedition to Greenland in 1926. “I practiced what I published,” he wrote. David tagged along with his father. The expedition proved a success and provided the fodder for the young teenager’s second book, David Goes to Greenland. A second father-son expedition to Baffin Island followed in 1927 resulting in David’s third book. When he got back, Putnam immersed himself in bagging the rights to Lindbergh’s story for G.P. Putnam’s Sons.

Home in Rye, Dorothy stayed socially active, entertaining explorers such as Admiral Richard Byrd. Will Rogers said that one “couldn’t snare an invitation [to Dorothy’s parties] unless you had conquered some uncharted territory.” But she was restless and bristling at being the one generally left behind to tend the home fires. With all the time apart, the couple increasingly led separate lives and the ties of their union began to unravel.

Still vibrant at age 38, Dorothy yearned for passion in her life. She found it in 1927 in the person of George Weymouth (“GW” in Dorothy’s diary), a handsome and polished sophomore at Yale who had been tapped to tutor David at home. Though guilt-ridden by her infidelity, Dorothy nevertheless thought it unjust that men usually got a pass. “Why is it there are so many men who consider love outside the bonds of matrimony the privilege of the male only?” she asked in her diary. When Dorothy discovered evidence that her husband was also having an affair, she penned that his dalliance lightened “my sense of fidelity.” Dorothy’s affair with GW was in bloom at the time Amelia Earhart came into the Putnams’ lives.

Earhart’s unlikely emergence occurred in 1928 in the wake of Charles Lindbergh’s historic flight. An American heiress, Amy Phipps Guest, made it known she was personally bankrolling the first flight across the Atlantic with a woman onboard. Guest acquired a Fokker plane and rechristened it the “Friendship.” Then she set about finding the right female to make the journey.

When George Putnam got wind of Guest’s quest, he offered to take charge of the search. If Putnam could position himself as the one to choose the candidate, his publishing company would have the inside track on the woman’s story. Having already enjoyed remarkable success promoting non-fiction first-person adventures, including Byrd’s Skyward and obtaining the rights to Lingbergh’s story, the gambit was right up Putnam’s alley.

Earhart was a natural candidate. She had learned to fly in 1921 while living in Los Angeles. She was particularly attracted to the challenge of achieving aviation “firsts.” Two years after her first flying lesson, Amelia established a new high altitude mark. She’d also flown in air shows. In 1923 the young pilot became the first woman granted a certificate by the aeronautics branch of the Department of Commerce, the precursor of the Federal Aviation Administration. After moving to Boston in 1928, Earhart joined the local chapter of the National Aeronautic Association. When George Putnam summoned her to New York in May 1928 for the most important interview of her life, she was leaving behind a job that had nothing whatsoever to do with flying. She was employed as a social worker at Boston’s Denison House.

The attraction was nearly instantaneous. “Before I had talked to him for very long I was conscious of the brilliant mind and keen insight of the man,” wrote Earhart. Putnam knew Earhart would be perfect for the “Friendship” flight. Not merely a proficient pilot, she was a promoter’s dream. Slender, with short curly blond hair, she was attractive in a tomboyish yet feminine way. Another bonus was the young woman’s uncanny resemblance to Lindbergh —not just physically, but also because of her direct but soft-spoken manner. Soon the announcement came that Earhart had been chosen. Delayed two weeks by poor weather, the venture’s participants, chief pilot Bill Stultz, co-pilot Slim Gordon, Earhart, and Putnam were forced to hole up in Boston’s Copley Plaza Hotel to wait out the storm.

Putnam asked his wife to join the group. He figured Dorothy’s adventurous, free-spirited personality would make her a conversational match with Amelia. His assessment proved correct. The two chatted like schoolgirls concerning their shared interests in theatre, literature, fishing, and horseback riding. Finally the weather cleared and the “Friendship” was aloft. The flight turned out to be most challenging. An engine kept cutting out and the crew lost their radio connection. “Friendship” was blown off course, and even before land was sighted the engines began sputtering as they ran short of gasoline. Though Bill Stultz thought he was landing in Cornwall, it was actually Wales, but the plane and crew had arrived safely.

Though she had been little more than a passenger, the flight catapulted Earhart into stardom. It was the beginning of a life loaded with personal appearances, parades, and speeches. After celebratory tours, first in England and then America, she holed up in Rye at the Putnam home adjacent to the posh Apawamis Club’s golf course. Under George’s direction, she commenced writing the book that would be called 20 Hrs., 40 min.: Our Flight in the Friendship.

Aviation’s budding superstar found time for fun in Rye. She and Dorothy shopped, swam, and attended upscale social occasions. It was Dorothy, not George, to whom Amelia dedicated 20 Hrs., 40 min. In her book Whistled Like a Bird — The Untold Story of Dorothy Putnam, George Putnam, and Amelia Earhart,” Sally Putnam Chapman, Dorothy and George’s granddaughter, wrote, “had it not been for my grandparents, Amelia would not have moved in the circles she did.” Dorothy introduced Amelia “to a glittering array of celebrities, artists, adventurers, and socialites.” With her newfound celebrity and the success of her book came financial rewards. It became abundantly clear that Earhart would never return to her previous life at Denison House.

Her relationship with George Putnam was also deepening. Within a month of Earhart’s arrival in Rye, an entry in Dorothy’s diary notes, “George is absorbed in Amelia and admires and likes her. Maybe he’s in love with her.” Eventually, she became convinced that her husband and the flier were “a couple.” Putnam certainly was smitten. His later writings indicate he considered Amelia the epitome of chic. Reminiscing after her death, he wrote, “I think she really did not realize that often she was very lovely to look at.” He gushed about, “her beautifully tailored gabardine slacks,” and “the tapering loveliness of her hands [that] was almost unbelievable.” Apparently Vanity Fair agreed. The magazine shot a fashion spread of Earhart that hit the newsstands in 1932.

Dorothy terminated her ongoing affair with GW in August 1928, although the two remained friendly. Nevertheless, her diary entries do not suggest she yearned to be reconciled with a husband she no longer loved. She broached the subject of divorce and, though George made an attempt to patch things up, that effort seemed halfhearted since he remained in constant contact with Amelia.

By June of 1929, after discovering another affair with Frank Upton, a flier and war hero, Putnam informed his wife that he too wished the marriage to end. Despite the fact that Earhart’s relationship with Putnam had become an open secret, Amelia invited Dorothy to accompany her in July as the first female passengers to fly coast-to-coast in a Transcontinental Air Transport commercial airplane. Pleased to be included as part of an aviation first, Dorothy accepted. She and her husband’s lover remained cordial during their trip. A week later they were together in the Galapagos Islands on a deep-sea dive. That excursion marked the end of their social time together though both women thereafter invariably professed respect and admiration for one another.

After nearly getting cold feet, Dorothy obtained a Reno divorce from George on December 19, 1929. She remarked that day in her diary, “How scared and empty I feel!” She sought to remake her life with her two children and Upton, her new husband, in Fort Pierce, Florida where her father had invested in local real estate. She purged her sadness by building a Spanish-style home on an 80-acre tropical wilderness.

At the time, Earhart told a friend that she was fond of Dorothy and considered the divorce “a shame.” But her primary focus was on bolstering her status as America’s foremost female aviator. She cemented that position with her vagabond solo round-trip transcontinental flight in 1929. Putnam kept her busy at each stop, scheduling lectures, personal appearances, and newspaper interviews. Earhart also started an organization comprised solely of women in aviation which became known as the “Ninety Nines.”

After resigning from the family business and joining another publishing company, George Putnam turned his attention to relentlessly pursuing marriage with Earhart. Reluctant to forego her independence, she turned him down at least twice. In February 1931, Earhart finally accepted his proposal, but with conditions. She wrote to him, “On our life together, I want you to understand I shall not hold you to any medieval code of faithfulness to me nor shall I consider myself so bound to you . . . I must extract a cruel promise, and that is you will let me go in a year if we find no happiness together (and this for me too).” Putnam accepted her terms. Some believe that her mention of an open marriage (as well as a suspected subsequent affair with Gene Vidal, Gore’s father) signaled that the couple’s union was more of a business arrangement than a true romance. But David Putnam later observed, “In the privacy of their home, they [his father and stepmother] were lovingly demonstrative.”

Earhart’s forceful establishment of the marriage’s terms undercut the impression of some that Putnam was the puppet master in the relationship. George himself later acknowledged that often Amelia held the upper hand, writing that she was “endowed with a will of her own, [and] no phase of her life ever modified it, least of all marriage.”

In any event, the newlyweds’ fledgling marriage was off to a good start as Amelia and her autogiro made their way into Moore County airspace. Tightly squeezed into the open cockpit of her Pitcairn PCA-2, Earhart peered through her goggles attempting to locate the airfield. As it was a pet peeve of the aviatrix that many of the new airports sprouting up like spring dandelions lacked identifying signage, Earhart was pleased to spot the word “PINEHURST” displayed in giant letters on the roof of Knollwood Field’s hanger.

The gathered onlookers, including the mayor and commissioners of Southern Pines, representatives of Pinehurst, and Mrs. W.C. Arkell, wife of the Beech-Nut Packing Company vice-president, watched as she flawlessly executed her landing. Perhaps the person most gratified by Earhart’s appearance was the manager of the airport, Lloyd Yost. A celebrated pilot himself, just nine days before, he had instituted shuttle flights from Knollwood Field to Raleigh, boasting that the new shuttle cut travel time from New York to Pinehurst down to six hours. In his wildest imagination, he could never have conjured up better publicity for showcasing the service than having the world famous Earhart drop in. Yost personally greeted his fellow pilot and made certain he was photographed alongside her.

Earhart apologized for keeping everyone waiting and cheerfully set about signing autographs. She did not linger long. Her stop at Knollwood was primarily for refueling with no time allotted for parades or lengthy speeches. Within a half hour she was airborne again. Amelia made good her return to Charlotte and would be back in the air the next morning destined for Spartanburg where thousands more would greet her.

Not one to rest on her laurels, in May of 1932, Earhart emulated Lindbergh’s triumph by becoming the first woman to make a solo flight across the Atlantic. The wind blew against her the entire way and, running low of fuel, she was forced to abandon her planned destination of Paris, landing instead in the field of a nonplussed Irish farmer. Though Amelia’s star had never waned since her “Friendship” flight, her solo trip across the ocean propelled “The Queen of the Air” into a still higher galaxy.

A busy 1933 summer beckoned, what with an upcoming meeting with Eleanor Roosevelt and a transcontinental air race, so George Putnam and his new wife, Amelia, decided to take some time for themselves. The Sandhills drew them back in March when they holidayed together in Pinehurst at the Carolina Hotel. The stay was presumably coupled with a visit to George’s mother who had taken the Schaumberg House on New York Avenue in Southern Pines for the season.

One consequence of the Earhart-Putnam marriage was that George’s two sons, David and George, Jr., developed a mutual affinity with Amelia. In Whistled Like a Bird, Chapman writes, “When the boys visited, she [Amelia] made sure to set aside time for horseback riding, sailing, picnicking, and swimming.” And the Putnam boys happily returned the affection their stepmother demonstrated toward them.

Other notable flights followed for Amelia, but they paled in comparison to the imposing 29,000-mile round-the-world flight she started planning in 1936. After one jettisoned attempt, she tried another in June 1937 with mechanic Fred Noonan aboard her Electra aircraft. George, David, and his new wife Nilla saw Amelia off from Miami. After completing 22,000 miles of the journey, Earhart and Noonan spent the final layover of their lives in New Guinea. During the next leg to the Howland Islands, radio contact was lost with the airplane, and Earhart and Noonan were never heard from again. A two-week U.S. Navy search over 360,000 square miles found no trace of them. Putnam refused to give up hope, desperately enlisting psychics for assistance, all to no avail. Amelia was declared legally dead in 1939.

A devastated Putnam wrote an homage to his wife entitled “The Sound of Wings.” He remarried in 1939 to his third wife Jean Marie Consigny, but it only lasted five years. He would marry one more time, to Margaret Havilland. Despite his advanced age, Putnam served in World War II in an intelligence unit. Thereafter, he and Margaret operated a resort in Indian Wells, California prior to Putnam’s passing away in 1950 at age 62. His sons, David and George, Jr., led productive lives. David flew B-29’s in World War II and enjoyed a flourishing real estate development career in Fort Pierce before dying at age 79. George, Jr. served in the Navy during the war, and survived the torpedoing of his ship. He owned construction and citrus businesses in Florida, and lived until 2013.

A decade after the engagement of George Putnam to his daughter, Dorothy, Edwin Binney and his family shifted their attentions from North Carolina to Florida, and the creator of Binneywood sold it in 1920. The plantation house burned to the ground thereafter. By Way Farms now operates an equestrian-related facility on the site.

Dorothy would successfully remake her life in Fort Pierce, involving herself in organizations related to women’s rights, aviation, gardening, and conservation. She relished the serenity of her tropical home and orange grove, which she named “Immokolee.” But her marital life was anything but serene. Upton suffered from a serious drinking problem resulting in a rapid end to that union. A third marriage also failed. She finally found contentment in her fourth marriage with Lew Palmer, the orange grove’s manager. She died at age 93 in 1982, but not before sharing with granddaughter, Sally Chapman, the diary of her turbulent but fascinating life. Sally now resides at the cherished Immokolee. She too has a Moore County connection as she is the wife of John Chapman, son of Pinehurst golf great Dick Chapman.

The exceedingly remote possibility that Earhart somehow survived a crash and lived on in the South Pacific is just one of the more recent theories that have kept the lost pilot frozen in time in our minds. Captured in smiling black and white photographs and newsreels, she remains the tousle-haired, rail-slim, modest but fiercely independent heroine who flew over the pine trees into Knollwood Field 86 years ago. PS

Pinehurst resident Bill Case is PineStraw’s history man. He can be reached at Bill.Case@thompsonhine.com.

Cuppa Your Own

Tea is a natural in the Sandhills

By Jan Leitschuh

Dark, wet days brighten considerably with a “cuppa,” warding off chilly winds and damp spirits. The Brits have long known the restorative power of tea.

I had a chance to hike the Great Glen Way in Scotland a few years back — we did it in a civilized fashion, stopping at bed-and-breakfasts for the night. Always, waiting for us, was a tea setup in the room, and always, we made a cup after a long day of walking. The tea never failed to work its magic reviving tired hikers.

While we associate tea with the United Kingdom, it actually originated in the Far East, as in “all the tea in China.” Few realize the tea plant also grows well in many parts of North Carolina. Old plantations in South Carolina are often found to have a few old plants. The gardens here at Weymouth sport a healthy specimen, too. 

Surprised?  Yet no one is surprised that camellias live in the Sandhills.

Tea does indeed come from a camellia plant, and that variety is Camellia sinensis, the tea camellia.

Seems like a kitchen gardener could have a little fun with tea.  A few years back I bought a plant on a visit to Charleston, South Carolina, and installed it in my yard. When I had the good fortune to meet enthusiast and prominent North Carolina tea grower Christine Parks last month, I pumped her for further instructions.

The owner of the garden club mecca Camellia Forest Tea Gardens, Parks grows her artisanal teas near Chapel Hill.  Delving in after first exposure, the more Parks learned, the more she was hooked. She was seized with the notion of teas, and growing the tea plants. Here, she thought, “was a passion that would keep me learning for the rest of my life, growing the plant, processing the leaves, the history and culture. More importantly, I just love working with the leaf, the aromas of the leaf — from the plants warming in the sunshine and the leaves drying.”

Popular in springtime for tours, Camellia Forest Tea Gardens has about half an acre in tea, “with hundreds of plants and many different varieties collected from all over the world, especially cold-hardy varieties that do well in our climate and throughout the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic states,” says Parks. 

A prominent North Carolina tea expert, Parks offers hands-on workshops. “(Husband) David’s family has been growing tea in their Chapel Hill garden for more than 35 years,” she says. “We started this current garden in 2006 to test new varieties and to provide a resource for gardeners who were interested in growing tea.”

No bright, showy blooms for the tea camellia. While its flowers are pale, small and not particularly showy, its green matter is highly valued. A bushy evergreen shrub, sometimes even a small tree, this plant’s leaves and leaf buds are harvested to produce tea. From this species of camellia comes white tea, green tea, oolong, black and pu-erh teas. The plant matter is processed differently to produce varying levels of oxidation, which gives us those different types of tea to drink. 

Camellias prefer Zones 7-9, and here in the Sandhills, we are 8a. Tea plants are best in semi-shade, though commercial growers use full sun and drip irrigation. A half-day of sun is probably ideal. They love sandy, slightly acid soil — sound like any place we know? — with lots of organic matter, similar to azaleas.  Mulch and regular water are essential to helping a new plant get started. 

Fifty inches of rainfall a year, or more, with a little help in dry times, is preferred. The shrubs make screens or background plants, and the plant is mildly resistant to damage by deer. They grow a strong taproot, and are unaffected by strong winds. The small flowers are a useful source of pollen to support bees over the winter.

Tea plants will grow into a tree if left undisturbed, but cultivated plants are pruned to waist height for ease of plucking. Fertilize lightly in spring with a balanced fertilizer, but if more growth is desired, don’t over-fertilize — more water will bring on new growth. Skip harvest the first few years to give the plant a chance to establish itself.

The young spring growth that the bush produces in “flushes” is prized for tea, and this is the season that draws the garden clubs and other visitors to Parks’ tiny tea farm. These “flushes” are harvested for processing. Plucking stimulates new growth in a few weeks. Fresh leaves contain about 4 percent caffeine, as well as other mildly stimulating compounds, including theobromine. The young, light green leaves are harvested for tea production — look for the short white hairs on the underside. 

Home gardeners picking for the first time might aim for the first two leaves and the unopened bud at the end of a twig. Older leaves are deeper green. Different leaf ages produce different tea qualities, since their chemical compositions are different. Usually, the tip (bud) and the first two to three leaves are harvested for processing. 

A palm-full of fresh shoots should yield a cup of tea, when dried. It takes many shoots to make a pound of tea. 

White tea may be the easiest to start with, since it is the least processed. Harvest one bud, or a leaf and a bud. Choose an area with good circulation, warm temperatures and about 65 percent humidity, explains Parks’ informative website, teaflowergardens.com. Let the leaves wither in the shade, until they look like they are starting to dry out, then complete the drying in an oven with very low temperatures — 170-200 degrees. This might take 15-20 minutes, so stay close. Store in an airtight container for up to a year.

Green tea is also worth trying. “The least oxidized tea, leaves are heated to inactivate enzymes that transform tea catechins into theaflavins and thearubigins. These components are part of what contribute to the unique flavors of green versus black and oolong,” according to teaflowergardens.com. Harvest two leaves and a bud in the morning, and spread out on a tray with good circulation. Heat the leaves for about 3-5 minutes using either steam (a vegetable steamer will do) or by stirring the fresh leaves in a dry pan until they are moist and hot. Depending on how much you have, roll the leaves in a clean cloth (or your hands for smaller amounts) to release the juices. Dry in an oven at a low temperature, as with white tea.

Parks still finds the process captivating: “I was hooked by the aromas of the leaf — fresh in the sunshine and as it went through processing to tea.”

Processing the tea leaf promotes the development of new chemical compounds which alter its taste as well as its properties.  It can be difficult to generalize by type of tea as to the health benefits of each, and there is some overlap. 

Over 4,000 years ago, tea was drunk strictly as medicine, to both stimulate and detoxify. Gradually, it became popular as a delicious, bitter beverage consumed for its own sake. The health benefits still exist, with today’s science validating its original use. Besides comfort, the leaves have been used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat asthma, acting as a bronchodilator. Due to its antioxidant powers, tea is being investigated for benefits in relation to cancer prevention, weight loss, strengthening the immune system, preventing cell mutations and in the treatment of cardiovascular diseases. 

The best time to visit the garden, says Parks, is when tea is growing from early May through October. With a nominal charge for tea tastings, along with more formal workshops by request, Camellia Forest Tea Gardens offers tours by appointment for groups and individuals. Two popular free open house events in late May and October highlight the tea garden.

“We love to learn, and share our experiences growing tea in North Carolina,” says Parks.  PS

Parks can be reached by email at teaflowergardens@gmail.com, through the website at www.teaflowergardens.com or on Facebook (Camellia Forest Tea Gardens). To order tea plants, contact the nursery directly at www.camforest.com.  

Jan Leitschuh is a local gardener, avid eater of fresh produce and co-founder of the Sandhills Farm to Table Cooperative.


It is deep January. The sky is hard. The stalks are firmly rooted in ice.    Wallace Stevens, “No Possum, No Sop, No Taters”

Begin Again

Perhaps it’s true that the best narratives are cyclical, taking the reader on a figurative journey that ultimately leads them back where they started, yet, through some alchemical reaction, altogether transformed. Like the fool’s journey, or the legendary ouroboros eating its own tail.

Which brings us back to January.

Outside, a pair of cardinals flits between the naked branches of a dogwood and the ornate rim of the pedestal birdbath. You think of the piebald gypsy cat who used to visit, how he would balance on the ledge to take a drink. Months have passed since you’ve seen him, but that drifter has charm. You’re sure he’s napping in some cozy sunroom, patiently waiting for the catkins and crocus, for the cheerily, cheer-up, cheer-up, cheerily return of the robin. The warmth of your own smile stretches across your face, and in this moment, all is well. 

On this first day of January, you imagine the New Year unfolding perfectly. Steam curls from your tea mug as an amalgam of flavors perfumes the air.

Cinnamon bark, licorice, ginger and marshmallow root . . .

Giving yourself permission to luxuriate, you reach for a favorite book of poems. “To read a poem in January is as lovely as to go for a walk in June,” said German author Jean Paul. You turn to a dog-eared page, can almost smell the honeysuckle and wild rose. You’ve read this poem many times, yet, like you, it is brand-new.

Blue Moon with Honey

Henry David Thoreau could wax poetic on “That grand old poem called Winter.” Perhaps it’s not the easiest season to weather, but from darkness comes light. Behold phloxes and hellebores, snowdrops and winter-blooming iris, and on Wednesday, Jan. 3, until the wee hours of Thursday, Jan. 4: the Quadrantids meteor shower. 

Named for Quadrans Muralis, a defunct constellation once found between the constellations of Boötes and Draco, near the tail of Ursa Major, the Quadrantids is one of the strongest meteor showers of the year. Although a just-full moon may compromise viewing conditions, you won’t want to miss a chance to see this celestial event.

Twelfth Night (Jan. 5), the eve of Epiphany, marks the end of the Christmas season and commemorates the arrival of the Magi who honored the Infant Jesus with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. Seeking a hangover cure following this night of merrymaking and reverie? Ginger tea. And don’t be shy with the honey dipper. The natural sugar will help your body burn off what’s left of the wassail.   

January’s blue moon falls on the last day of the month. Reflect upon the ways you let your own light shine on this rare and energetically powerful night. Like attracts like. What are you calling in for 2018?

To Your Health!

Traditionally served in a large wooden bowl adorned with holly and ivy, wassail is a hot alcoholic cider that spells celebration. Many recipes call for port, sherry and fresh-baked apples, but here’s a simple (un-spiked) version for you. Start now and wrap your hands around a mug of hot wassail within the hour. Serves four.


2 cups apple cider

1 cup orange juice

Juice of one lemon

2 cinnamon sticks

6 cloves

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg


Combine all ingredients in a large pan.

Bring to simmer over medium-low heat. 

Reduce heat. Continue simmering for 45 minutes. 

Ladle into mugs and enjoy.

There are two seasonal diversions that can ease the bite of any winter. One is the January thaw. The other is the seed catalogues.  — Hal Borland

New Year, New You

Time to ditch the toxins

By Karen Frye

The human body is remarkable. When you realize how much is going on inside — the synchronicity of the organ functions and systems — you’ll see everything works together like a well-oiled machine.

The body renews itself entirely every seven years. Some of the organs, such as the liver, renew themselves every four to five months. Our skin renews every seven days. New cells are formed to replace the old ones. Our bodies are capable of healing and renewing with no effort on our part, though our world today makes the work a lot more challenging.

Environmental toxins, herbicides, chemicals in water, caffeine, alcohol and prescription medications contribute to toxic overloads. Detoxing is not a recent fad. People have been doing various forms of detoxifying for hundreds of years. There are many methods. It is good to find a health care professional to guide you, and if you are on medications, discuss your plans with your health care provider first. There are changes you can make in your life that will give beneficial results with a little effort and willpower.

It is best to change your bad habits permanently into better ones, which may take time. You might just notice that you are feeling so much better through the detox process that you may keep some changes as part of your daily lifestyle.

Prepare yourself for your detox:

Set your mind to succeed. You won’t starve, and your body will appreciate the attention you are devoting to being healthier. Create a journal and record your thoughts and feelings so you can go back and read them later.

Clear your kitchen of the foods you want to avoid so you aren’t tempted. Remove all processed foods, sweets, soft drinks, etc.

Stock your pantry and refrigerator with seasonal fruits and vegetables, preferably organic. Have berries in the freezer to make smoothies.

Plan your schedule so you can get to bed at a reasonable time, and get enough sleep. Sleeping well helps your organs recharge, and assists the elimination of toxins.

Set aside a little time to exercise. Sweat is the body’s way of releasing toxins from the cells. I love Bikram yoga. Not only do you sweat, but the postures stimulate the glands and organs so they function optimally.

Drink lemon water with a pinch of Celtic or Himalayan salt upon rising. Use fresh squeezed lemon juice with warm or hot water. This is something that you might consider doing every day even after you finish your detox. And while we are talking about water, you must increase your water intake to at least 90 ounces. One of the most important functions of drinking a lot of water is how it helps the kidneys and liver do their job flushing toxins.

Replace your morning coffee with a cup of green tea. Matcha green tea contains the highest amount of antioxidants, and is more flavorful than typical green tea. Drink herbal teas throughout the day; dandelion and red clover are my recommendations.

Eliminate red meat, and if you must eat animal protein, choose free-range chicken, or wild salmon (in moderation). Try to eat mostly fruits and vegetables, especially dark, leafy green salads.

Fiber is important to keep things moving. Chia seeds are an excellent source. They are not only high in fiber, but loaded with omega-3 fatty acid and high in antioxidants. You can add chia seeds to almost anything.

There are “detox kits” that contain herbs to help your body in the process. Please keep in mind that you can do a lot on your own by cleaning up your diet.

You can design your detox for a week or longer. You might find that you really like the way you feel. Often you will sleep better, and have more energy and stamina throughout the day. Your skin will become radiant, and your eyes will be clearer. Digestion will be improved, and your immune system will be stronger.

Whatever you do this year, set yourself up for success. Think healthy thoughts, eat healthy foods, exercise, and most of all, be happy PS

Karen Frye is the owner and founder of Natures Own and teaches yoga at the Bikram Yoga Studio.

Victoria & Jay Stalls


After a foliage-filled proposal in the secluded Biltmore Estate gardens, Moore County natives Victoria and Jay Stalls desired a wedding with abundant greenery and soft colors. They found the ideal outdoor venue at Campbell House in Southern Pines and decorated their special day in navy and blush colors reminiscent of a springtime garden. Under an arbor hand-crafted by the groom’s father, surrounded by late September greenery, the couple said “I Do.” The lushly simple celebration remained true to the Stalls’ style, and their outdoor wedding concluded with a reception at 305 Trackside, marking the first wedding event held at the location.

Photography: Hillary Jaworski Photography Ceremony: Campbell House | Reception: 305 Trackside Dress: Lucy’s Always Formally Dressed | Shoes:  Nina Shoes, Belk | Jewelry: Givenchy | Flowers: Hollyfield Designs | Hair & Makeup: Priscila Fuentes from Charmed Salon | Cake: Bridgette Douglas | Entertainment: Guitarist Hunter Downing and DJ Darnell Davis from Marsean Entertainment

Diane & Scott Gerbereux


A classic Southern wedding in Pinehurst was the natural choice for Diane and Scott Gerbereux. After getting engaged in 2016, Diane moved to Pinehurst to join Scott, who works at Carolinas Golf Association. The ceremony was held at The Village Chapel and the reception at the Pinehurst Resort, complete with a cocktail hour and miniature golf games on the putting green of Pinehurst No. 2. Giant cutouts of the newlyweds’ faces were passed around at the reception for a humorous touch. Family and friends decorated the dance floor with the forged faces, and documented the celebration with custom Snapchat geofilters around the resort.

Photography: Sayer Photography Ceremony: The Village Chapel | Reception: The Outlook Room at the Pinehurst Resort Dress: Romona Kevez | Shoes: Badgley Mischka | Wedding Attire: Bella Bridesmaids and Generation Tux | Flowers: Jack Hadden Floral & Events | Hair & Makeup: Danielle Blue, Elevation Hair Studio & Brittani Bacat | Cake: Pinehurst Resort | Entertainment: Ceremony – Laura Wyatt, Reception – Irresistible Groove

Chelsea & Kevin Krysty


Chelsea and Kevin Krysty wed in the place of worship where they met and fell in love: Grace Church of Southern Pines. Their ideal wedding was one that would honor and glorify God, and they worked to ensure those in attendance felt the love of Jesus. The bridesmaids were prayed over and gifted floral robes and personalized bangles, while the grooms received ties and journals. Chelsea shared a special moment dancing with her grandmother, who passed away a few weeks after the wedding. They felt truly blessed on their big day, and no obstacle, big or small, could diminish the love in the air.

Photography: Paige Kentner Photography Ceremony: Grace Church | Reception: Little River Golf & Resort Dress: Wedding Dress Me | Wedding Attire: Bridesmaids, showmeyourmumu.com, Groomsman, Jos. A. Bank | Flowers: Chelsea Myrick, Midway Trading Co. | Hair & Makeup: Chelsea Regan, hair and makeup artist | Cake: Filly & Colts

Brooke & Colby Bellville


Pine cones, pine needles, and Southern magnolias adorned the Fair Barn for Brooke and Colby Bellville’s Pinehurst themed wedding. Brooke grew up in Moore County, but Colby calls Alabama home, so the couple made sure to include pine cones straight from Alabama in the décor. The groom added to the affectionate atmosphere when he pulled an old napkin out of his pocket and read his hand-written vows. It was the napkin Brooke had written her number on and gave to Colby more than three years earlier when they met at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse in Charlotte. At the reception, The Sand Band kept the Pinehurst party going with Carolina beach music and oldies.

Photography: Paige Kentner Photography Ceremony: The Fair Barn | Reception: The Fair Barn Dress: Stella York | Wedding Attire: Brides, Etc. | Shoes: Anthropologie | Flowers: Southern Belle Florist | Hair & Makeup: Katie Cottingham of Charmed Salon, Makeup artist Chelsea Bishop | Entertainment: The Sand Band

Stephanie & Jon Davis


While visiting his family for Christmas, Southern Pines native Jon Davis proposed to Stephanie Hillman at the holiday gingerbread display in the Carolina Hotel. After an eight-month engagement they said their vows at Brownson Memorial Presbyterian Church. For the elegant, flower-inspired wedding, the bride found creative ways to incorporate her beloved golden retriever, Teddy. The signature cocktail of the night was “The Teddy,” and guests parted with party favors of popcorn, one of the pet’s favorite treats. Personal touches, like wrapping the bouquet in satin from Stephanie’s grandmother’s wedding gown, added sentimental accents. The veil was borrowed from her sister, and has been worn by all the women in the family. Having special pieces from her family made the day even more perfect for Stephanie.

Wedding Planner: Casey Harris, La Fête Planning & Design Photography: Anagram Photo Ceremony: Brownson Memorial Presbyterian Church | Reception: Pinehurst Country Club Dress: Custom Modern Trousseau | Shoes: Kate Spade and Sergio Rossi | Flowers: Meristem Floral | Hair & Makeup: Makeup for Your Day | Cake: The Bakehouse | Entertainment: East Coast Entertainment’s Liquid Pleasure Super Show

Brittany & Alex Buckley


After meeting at a 2016 NFL playoffs party held by a mutual friend, Brittany and Alex Buckley started dating and quickly knew they had stumbled upon a special relationship. Both sports lovers and entrepreneurs, it didn’t take long before they started parent introductions. At the start, Brittany, a Pinehurst native, resided in Charlotte, while Alex lived in Raleigh. The couple now live in Southern Pines, where Brittany runs the dance school Carolina Performing Arts Center. The Buckleys planned a classic, blush and ivory toned wedding at Community Presbyterian Church. Bridesmaids were gifted a day at the Pinehurst Spa, while groomsmen received engraved grill sets.

Photography: Christopher Record Photography Ceremony: Community Presbyterian Church | Reception: Pinehurst Country Club Dress: Mira Zwillinger | Jewelry: Badgley Mischka, Moon & Lola | Shoes: Badgley Mischka | Flowers: Jack Hadden Floral & Events | Hair & Makeup: Lindsey Pizzuti, Mirror Bomb Studio & Jessica Davis | Cake: The Bakehouse | Entertainment: ATL Groove Factory