Red Blazes

Red Blazes 1

When I first spoke with Stacy Brenner, who runs Broadturn Farm with her partner, John Bliss, I asked about strategies for following the farm’s property lines during my run. “Oh, don’t worry. The boundaries are marked with red tape and blazes,” she replied. I took her word for it, though I’d gotten disoriented on every run so far. Broadturn is a 430 acre farm in Scarborough, Maine (100 acres of open fields, 330 of forest) that produces organic vegetables and cut flowers, in addition to hosting summer camps and weddings.

When I arrived for my run, I found Stacy and her crew in the farm stand quietly focused on cutting and assembling floral bouquets. Stacy took a short break to walk me over to the house so I could look at a mounted map of the property. Wanting some kind of a guide during my run, I scrawled a quick copy on scrap paper. Makeshift Map


My run began with the Silver Brook Trail, which I found behind two surprisingly charming outhouses on the edge of the farm. For the first half mile, I wove through the woods by the brook, eventually finding the southwest edge of the property where I began to look for the red blazes that would lead me west.


I trotted down a track lined with soft green ferns, until I spotted the back of a house. The Broadturn Farm jogs around a few private homes on the southern side, so I scooted around them and came out on a paved road. I quickly realized that Broadturn Farm abuts several other farms, and I wasn’t sure which fields matched those on my makeshift map. I began to run down the road in search of red blazes. There was a tractor working the field on the opposite side of the road, and I pondered the consequences of running onto someone else’s farmland by mistake. Deciding to risk it, I turned around, ran back by the tractor, and cut into the field next to a long dividing line of trees. Red blazes appeared halfway across the field–I was on the right track!


The rolling field dipped into wet lowlands, and by the time I reached the far woods, my feet were soaked. This theme continued as I entered a thick, damp forest, lined with meandering creeks and a boggy forest floor.  WetWoodsThrough much of the woods, there was no path, so I scanned  for red blazes and tape, running from one to another as the terrain allowed. As I relaxed into a routine, the aesthetic variety of the blazes began to pull me along: single and multiple strokes of red, tucked into grooves or skimmed over the bark’s surface. I began to imagine drawing patches of red on paper and pondered how I might say something in my drawings about the experience of finding one’s path and marking territory. 



After a few miles in the woods, I veered down a path that led me to a residential district.


Sure I had misjudged, I ran toward the sound of traffic, hoping to find my way, and emerged on Rt. 22. It was a scorchingly hot day, and I ran, wet with sweat and mud, alongside the hot pavement, stopping to sip water when I could find shade. When I passed Broadturn Road, I began to look for the northern edge of the farm property. Another farmhouse came into view, and I turned into a field and began, once again, to hunt for red blazes. With some effort, I spotted red tape and began running the forest edge, alongside an orchard.


At the northeast corner, I cut into the dense woods. At that point, the blazes seemed to disappear.


Not sure of my direction, I crossed a brook, and after winding my way up a hill, emerged behind the plowed fields next to 2 beehives. I ran along the fields toward the long, white greenhouses and discovered that they were filled with tomato plants, each plant stretched tall with red string.


Back at the farm stand, I found John and Stacy’s daughter, Flora, playing with a young chick. Though she claimed to be making a leash for it, the chick wandered calmly at her feet without the need of one.

Baby Chick

Flora pointed me in the direction of a nearby cabin where Stacy, John, and their crew were quietly eating lunch. I thanked them for the adventure, purchased some beets, snap peas, and baby bok choy, and walked back to where my car was baking in the sun. I drove away pondering how I would transform red blazes into marks on paper…


About lucindasrunningblog

Lucinda is an artist and teacher whose work focused on landscape and place. Bliss currently serves as Dean of Graduate Studies at the New Hampshire Institute of Art.
This entry was posted in Art, Running, Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Red Blazes

  1. mmwm says:

    We used to live out that way … I can imagine you there.

  2. otterlady says:

    I love this blog. I could imagine it so well. And your photos helped too. It made me think about Fisher Eddy, a much smaller piece of property, that has fields and woods and stone walls and boundaries. There are a few markers of the boundaries, but now I think it would be fun to put up some blazes. Color? Hmmm. I’ll wait to learn more from what you briing out of this venture. Thanks so much for what you are doing and for sharing with us.

    Julia G. Kahrl 98 Fisher Eddy Road Arrowsic, ME 04530

  3. Andrea Galuza says:

    I have thought of Fisher Eddy too. Would be fun to even walk the perimeter staying out of the poison ivy.

  4. owen says:

    Hi, Ive already been a lurker all around your blog for a couple months. I love this article along with your entire site! Looking forward to looking at more!

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