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Wednesday, 01 December 2010 21:30

The creek outside my window

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I write this from my “office” (a spare room) at home. Looking out the window, I can see the creek…
Wednesday, 24 November 2010 19:51

A story about darkness, light and the red bird

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Ho down down … Ho down dee Red bird dancin in custody Way down in New Orleans. Ho down down…
Wednesday, 17 November 2010 20:43

A father’s influence

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Horace Kephart (1862-1931) was the author of Our Southern Highlanders, Camp Cookery, Sporting Firearms, Camping and Woodcraft, Smoky Mountain Magic,…
Wednesday, 10 November 2010 21:14

Where the buffalo roam

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Buffalo Branch ... Buffalo Creek ... Buffalo Cove ... all are common place names that indicate the prior residence of…
Thursday, 04 November 2010 01:10

One fine mountain poet

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Allow me to introduce you to a friend of mine. His name is Han Shan. He is among the finest…
Wednesday, 27 October 2010 20:53

Witch-hazel’s name — A botanical mystery

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The unusually dry, warm days this month have resulted in a delayed color season as well as an abundance of…
Wednesday, 20 October 2010 20:34

Region’s kaolin history is nearly forgotten

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One of the more interesting stories concerning this region is that of the kaolin mining industry. It began more than…
Wednesday, 13 October 2010 20:35

The smells of autumn

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Fall is the odiferous time of the year. I don’t possess a very discriminating sense of smell, but certain fragrances…
Wednesday, 06 October 2010 20:37

Dialect of the southern highlands

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I’m no expert on regional linguistics, but through the years I have delighted in the dialect English still spoken here…
Wednesday, 29 September 2010 12:57

‘Jack of all trades’ common in Appalachia

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Here in the Smokies region “making do” isn’t a lost art. Most “country” men and women can still “get along”…
Wednesday, 22 September 2010 20:01

Mica — from art to technology

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“Oh, what is that shiny stuff in the rocks?” someone will ask during any sort of outing. And invariably, someone…
Tuesday, 07 September 2010 20:41

From the composition book…

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Saturday morning … sitting alone at the kitchen table … nothing much going on … looking out the window ……
Tuesday, 31 August 2010 20:31

A coyote in the yard

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Monday morning … 9:15 or so … suddenly the coyote was there … as if from out of nowhere ……
Tuesday, 13 July 2010 19:26

It’s hot, and the lizards are in heaven

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The sweltering heat this summer is restricting some outdoor activities, but it’s a prime time for lizard watching. Lizards don’t…
Monday, 30 August 2010 14:12

A unique old time reporter

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Many characters surface in stories related to Horace Kephart, regional author and one of the founders of the Great Smoky…
Wednesday, 11 August 2010 14:00

The secretive, intelligent and prolific crow

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Like most commonly observed objects, crows flit across our field of vision unheeded. Caw-caw-cawing unmusically … flap-flap-flapping over the fields…
Wednesday, 28 July 2010 13:19

Blooms in the southern mountains

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Each July since 1991, I’ve led field trips along the Blue Ridge Parkway offered as part of the Native Plants…
Tuesday, 06 July 2010 21:01

Rekindling memories of High Rocks

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This is about a place, High Rocks, a lookout situated at just over 5,000 feet on Welch Ridge in the…
Wednesday, 30 June 2010 15:13

Secret poems of the Cherokee

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I have always been struck by the sacred formulas (chants or incantations) that the Cherokee medicine men used to create…
Wednesday, 23 June 2010 14:53

Beekeeping in the mountains

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Editor’s note: This column first appeared in The Smoky Mountain News in June 2003. Honey was a primary sweetening agent…
Wednesday, 09 June 2010 13:29

An ongoing preservation

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This past week, we took our 11-year-old granddaughter, Daisy, who is visiting from Colorado, to the Cherokee Indian Village. She…
Wednesday, 02 June 2010 19:59

Rediscovering inspiration

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In the mid-1970s my primary writing interest was poetry. I was consumed night and day by poetry for perhaps five…
Wednesday, 26 May 2010 12:34

A place called home

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One doesn’t tire of certain places. Even though they inevitably change through the years, they become more than friends. The…
Wednesday, 19 May 2010 13:19

Do you know where you live?

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One of the handouts I use during natural history workshops is headed “Southern Blue Ridge Province: Geographic Location and Influences.”…
Wednesday, 12 May 2010 15:18

The cuckoo, both elusive and beautiful

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This past weekend marked the 26th annual Great Smokies Birding Expedition, a gathering of onrnithologically-inclined friends. On Saturdays, to get…
Wednesday, 05 May 2010 15:14

Celebrating Kephart, and his teacup

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This past weekend marked the second annual Horace Kephart celebration in Bryson City. There was a terrific presentation of newly…
Wednesday, 28 April 2010 17:37

Admiration, maybe, but no love for the boar

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Numerous non-native plants have been introduced into the southern mountains during the last century or so. Many are now classified…
Wednesday, 21 April 2010 17:37

Kephart’s persona was well crafted

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Our consideration of “books and all things related” continues with a look at an instance when a well-known author (and…
Wednesday, 14 April 2010 17:37

Remembering when books were magic

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We’re still at it—considering books and related matters like shelving strategies, bookplates, home libraries, favorite books, and “How do we…
Wednesday, 07 April 2010 17:37

Iconic drugstore to interesting bookstore

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We’re been considering books and related matters like shelving, bookplates, home libraries, favorite books, and (last week’s topic) — “How…
Wednesday, 31 March 2010 15:01

The art of choosing the next book

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Of late, we’ve been considering books. The feedback (mostly email) from readers to recent columns regarding books in general, book…
Wednesday, 24 March 2010 19:03

Imagining a one-book library

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The feedback (mostly email) from readers to recent columns regarding books in general, book shelving strategies, and bookplates has been…
Wednesday, 17 March 2010 18:34

Book lovers and our new bookplates

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Several weeks ago, I devoted a column to the complicated science of book shelving. Not a few readers responded —…
My weekly deadline is looming. I’m not sure how this is going to turn out. But I’ve been thinking about…
Wednesday, 03 March 2010 16:12

The calm of a winter’s night

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It’s Saturday night as I write this .... going on toward midnight. I read the thermometer mounted outside the kitchen…
Wednesday, 24 February 2010 17:50

Perfecting the art of shelving books

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Some readers might recall that three weeks ago — in a column about relocating my long lost inscribed copy of…
Wednesday, 17 February 2010 17:10

Topography and language

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I enjoy using variants on the phrase “lay of the land.” One can “get the lay of the land” in…
Wednesday, 10 February 2010 17:04

A taste of Appalachian poetry

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This past weekend was given over to reorganizing the books in my home library. In the process, I relocated a…
Wednesday, 03 February 2010 15:01

Simple signs of the evergreen

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You can almost smell the word “evergreen.” The word is at once one of the most aptly descriptive and highly…
Wednesday, 27 January 2010 17:37

Davis was a poetic nature writer

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The professional career of biologist Millard C. (“Bill”) Davis — who was born in 1930 in Utica, N.Y., and now…
Wednesday, 20 January 2010 16:12

A look at John Preston Arthur

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One of my favorite accounts of this region’s varied history is provided by John Preston Arthur, who published his 659-page…
Wednesday, 13 January 2010 16:12

Masters of the night sky

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The New Year has arrived and the great horned owls have commenced their annual “singing” along the dark ridges. These…
Wednesday, 06 January 2010 15:43

Aspects of life from a rural cove

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This marks my tenth year of writing a weekly Back Then column for The Smoky Mountain News. In all that…
Wednesday, 30 December 2009 15:54

The colors of winter

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For my wife, Elizabeth, and me, winter doesn’t arrive until the first of each year. From now until spring is…
Wednesday, 23 December 2009 13:45

Mistletoe and sycamore ring in winter

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Each season has characteristic features that signal its arrival. Winter is no exception. Two of my winter favorites: mistletoe and…
Wednesday, 16 December 2009 12:59

Early mapping of the Nantahala

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The economic destiny of a given region is ultimately determined by its geology, flora and climate. That’s certainly been the…
Wednesday, 16 December 2009 12:59

The Naturalist's Corner

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Junaluska waterfowl are plentiful, varied A quick turn around Lake Junaluska last Sunday revealed 13 species of waterfowl and/or wetland…
Wednesday, 09 December 2009 15:13

A skunk by any other name

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Five skunk species are residents in the United States: hooded, hog-nosed, western spotted, eastern spotted, and striped. Only the last…
Wednesday, 02 December 2009 14:31

Memories from ‘up at the barn’

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You’ve noticed how old barns are recognized as special places? When a person says, “I’m going down to the barn,”…