6 Weekender Friday, November 18, 1977
Nature preserve is living laboratory,
history survives in 800 wild acres
By PARKS HELMS
Just south of Chapel Hill, across the
concrete bridge on old Morgan's Creek, lies
the Mason Farm Nature Preserve an 800
acre sweep of sky, forest and field. Donated
to the University in 1894, the preserve is used
by the botany department as a living
It was 1690 when Mark Morgan, fleeing
hostile Indians and French in Pennsylvania,
first crossed the little North Carolina creek
that later would bear his name. It's still called
Morgan's Creek in honor of the prominent
gentleman landowner who fashioned a
tobacco and cotton plantation out of the
virgin oak-hickory forest he found.
M organ's son Solomon stayed close to the
land, and, in 1 792 was one often landowners
who gave together more than a thousand
forested acres to establish the University of
North Carolina and the little town of Chapel
$ When James Pleasant Mason, an Orange
County Baptist minister, married Solomon's
daughter in 1854, the Mason farm was
formed from her share of the Morgan
inheritance. The Masons had two daughters
who were as devoted to the land as their
Mrs. Cornelia Spencer of Chapel Hill
wrote about the sisters, in the University of
North Carolina Magazine in February 1895,
after their deaths in a typhoid fever
"Neither of these girls would hesitate to
take a long walk to secure for a friend a
perfect specimen of some rare, wild flower,
the fringed gentian, the sabbatia or the
fragrant wintergreen. These walks, these
wild woods, the rushing stream and the
yellow jessamine that hung over it were
among their best teachers and friends."
Much has changed along the banks of
Morgan's Creek since the days of Mark
Morgan and the Mason girls.
The deer, bobcat and turkey of the deeper,
earlier woods have yielded to flocks of
cardinals and starlings as the land was
cleared and the soil turned.
Already the graves of Solomon Morgan
and his family have been moved from
beneath the three, giant hackberry trees that
shaded them for more than a century to
make room for the flood plain of the planned
Even amidst change, the Mason Farm
Preserve impresses most persons with its
The brown fields still yield a crop as they
did in Mark Morgan's day. At night, foxes
and raccoons still rustle the leaves, leaving
prints in the soft brown mud along Morgan's
Hawks by day and owls by night circle the
fields in search of rabbits, rodents and
snakes. They return to nest in the nearly
unbroken woods to the south that run for
miles into northern Chatham County.
And old Morgan's Creek still tumbles
from laurel-lined granite cliffs into the
lowlands on Mason Farm. Its pollution is
the only sign of the town whose southern
border it forms. The sunfish and suckers are
gone" now, as are the snappers and
kingfishers who fed on smaller fish.
Morgan's Creek is a place for long walks
and silent reflection. One returns time and
again to the oak-hickory forest as Mark.
Morgan and the Mason girls must have done
nft lo Ihe
"Being a physical
exertion major, I had
trouble meeting girls.I
barely had enough time
to work out and eat. But
then I met Delilah at
Hardee's. She looked a
little thin so I bought
her a Big Deluxe. By
the time she ate it,
night had fallen and
we were both in the
mood for romance.
Since then, we've
developed a beau
I just wish she.d
me to get a
The Ma?on family graves still stand on the land they donated to the University as a
nature preserve nearly 80 years ago. The Nature preserve, behind the Finley Golf
Course Club House, is now used by the botany department. Photo by Ned Hudson.
Make your own yogurt
By NELL LEE
Every day more and more people are discovering yogurt. People who used to turn
up their noses at it in the refrigerated section of the grocery store now are hauling it
off by the carload.
"Everyone seems a little more conscious of what they are eating these days, and
yogurt is one of the healthiest and most delicious foods that has become popular,"
said Beverly Dawson, a manager of the Pyewacket Cafe on West Franklin Street.
Dawson makes large quantities of the product every two days.
"People think it's a very difficult process, but it's really very simple," she added.
Although various dry yogurt cultures are available in health food stores, a few
tablespoons of store-bought yogurt work very well as a culture, Dawson said.
Here are the ingredients for one homemade method:
1 quart raw, homogenized, pasteurized, skim or reconstituted non-fat dry milk
V cup non-fat dry milk soiids (optional)
I teaspoon to 4 tablespoons yogurt.
Combine the liquid milk with the non-fat dry milk solids and heat the mixture in a
heavy saucepan until the mixture registers 180 degrees on a thermometer.
Let the mixture cool to 1 13 degrees, then mix a little of the warm milk with tht
yogurt and pour in the rest of the milk mixture, stirring well. Pour into a warm
sterilized quart jar and cover with clear plastic wrap. Next, leave the substance
undisturbed for several hours in a warm place. Dawson gives several methods ot
doing this final step.
One technique is to set the jar in a pan of hot water over a pilot light on the stove
covered with a blanket; the mixture may be poured into a clean thermos and set
aside; insulated picnic coolers, warmed by two quart jars of hot water, make
excellent places to leave the mixture to culture; merely wrapping the jar in a blanket
or newspaper for warmth is usually successful; commercial yogurt makers with a
warming device are popular, and they sell for around $10.
Whatever method you choose for keeping the yogurt warm, make sure it is
undisturbed. T he amount of time the yogurt is left to sit determines the acidity of the
finished product. The time can vary from four to 1 5 hours. Be sure to refrigerate the
yogurt a few hours before eating it.
According to Dawson, the beginning yogurt maker's biggest pitfall is not keeping
the mixture warm while it is culturing. She added that portions used as starters
should be between three and five days old.
Yogurt is used in cooking many dishes, mixed with all kinds of fruit or spooned
over salads and vegetables.