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Wednesday, 18 February 2009 19:01

Reservoir rendezvous

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Joe Wright was born and raised in the high Nantahalas in the northwest corner of Macon County. He was 90-some-years-old…
Wednesday, 11 February 2009 17:39

Forsythia heralds the spring season

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The recent warm spell has the birds singing and various plants budding. One of these is forsythia. My wife, Elizabeth,…
Wednesday, 04 February 2009 16:23

Owls remain mysterious, alluring

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Of late, I have been hearing the owls sounding off on the slopes and ridge lines behind our home. Some…
Wednesday, 21 January 2009 15:57

Getting to know liverworts

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Some years ago, when I was first interested in plant identification, I became curious about liverworts. They are one of…
Wednesday, 14 January 2009 14:38

An interested observer

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omething banged against the office window above my desk. I assumed it was a bird of some sort. And since…
Wednesday, 07 January 2009 13:51

Wolf lore

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In the beginning, the people say, the dog was put on the mountain and the wolf beside the fire. When…
Wednesday, 31 December 2008 16:17

Winter wear

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(Note: A version of this essay will appear in an upcoming issue of “Chinquapin: The Newsletter of the Southern Appalachian…
Wednesday, 17 December 2008 15:06

Taking a likin’ to the lichen

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On a winter walk you will encounter numerous evergreen plants. None is more mysterious or delightful to behold than the…
Wednesday, 03 December 2008 13:23

My birding through the warbler

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It wasn’t until the late 1970s that my wife, Elizabeth, and I first started birding in a systematic fashion. That…
Wednesday, 05 March 2008 00:00

An early account of Western NC

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While crossing the Blue Ridge north of present Asheville in the early 1540s, Hernando de Soto’s scribes entered some brief…
Wednesday, 27 February 2008 00:00

Alum Cave for a breath of fresh air

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I recently happened upon an interesting article that described an excursion made in 1860 to the Alum Cave on the…
Wednesday, 20 February 2008 00:00

Highlands plateau still a world of green hills

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Several years ago I wrote about Bradford Torrey’s A World of Green Hills, which was published in 1898 by Houghton…
Wednesday, 13 February 2008 00:00

Upper world guardians

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We are all fascinated by birds. In addition to being pretty (even buzzards are pretty in their own way), they…
Wednesday, 06 February 2008 00:00

Dr. Elisha Mitchell

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While scanning the shelves of a rare bookstore in Asheville several months ago, I happened upon a regional volume by…
Wednesday, 30 January 2008 00:00

Right in the thick of it

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Our southern mountains are old and relatively sedate when compared with the Himalayas, Rockies, and other “young” mountain ranges. But…
Wednesday, 23 January 2008 00:00

It’s a dog’s life

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A new book has been published that will be of particular interest to area hunters, outdoorsmen, and dog lovers. It…
Wednesday, 16 January 2008 00:00

Sneaky snipe stamps scouts

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Until I started birding seriously as an adult, I didnÕt know that snipe actually existed. For years that bird was…
Wednesday, 09 January 2008 00:00

In living colour

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Cedar waxwings and American holly are with us year round. The waxwings wander around a lot in extended family groups,…
Wednesday, 02 January 2008 00:00

Cherokee and their bird stories

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The second soul, that of physiological life, is located in the liver, and is of primary importance in doctoring and…
Wednesday, 26 December 2007 00:00

A plant’s purpose

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There are more than 300,000 plant species in the world. Some are edible, some can be used for their medicinal…
Wednesday, 19 December 2007 00:00

A honey of a locust

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Every few years, there will be a bumper crop of long flat strap-shaped honey locust pods, many up to two…
Wednesday, 12 December 2007 00:00

Rocking out

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Here in the southern mountains there are magical habitats to be explored in every direction and at every elevation. Periglacial…
Wednesday, 28 November 2007 00:00

The essential nature of winter

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When late November finally arrives, my wife, Elizabeth, and I go into another mode. Her busy season in the gallery-studio…
Wednesday, 21 November 2007 00:00

Quiz time

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Naturalists are always being quizzed about this or that. Turn about is fair play. So, are you ready for a…
Wednesday, 14 November 2007 00:00

Winter preparation

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If you’ve been getting out in the woods at all lately, you’re aware that it’s been an especially good season…
Wednesday, 07 November 2007 00:00

When litter is good

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Due to the virtual absence of wind and rain, the fall color season is lingering with us. But winter weather…
Wednesday, 31 October 2007 00:00

Overnight hibernation

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As I write this on Monday morning, we’ve just had our initial hard frost of the year here in Swain…
Wednesday, 24 October 2007 00:00

The gall

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The various relationships that exist between plants and animals are fascinating. My view of wildflower ecology is dominated by the…
Wednesday, 17 October 2007 00:00

Uncovering winter’s delight

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Some trees that might be difficult to locate during the spring through fall foliage season become more apparent in winter.…
Wednesday, 10 October 2007 00:00

Beauty of the cardinal flower

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The fall wildflower season has arrived. Along roadsides and woodland edges some of our more robust native plants are now…
Wednesday, 03 October 2007 00:00

Shrills in the night

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When I was growing up in the tobacco-farming portion of the southern Virginia piedmont, there were many haunted outbuildings throughout…
Wednesday, 26 September 2007 00:00

Sweet bubby bush

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I recently received an email from a reader who asked, “Could you write about the sweet bubby bush? That’s the…
Wednesday, 19 September 2007 00:00

Saying farewell to summer

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It’s mid-September ... late summer is sliding toward early autumn. The end of summer officially arrives with the autumnal equinox…
Wednesday, 12 September 2007 00:00

Walnut toxicity

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The walnut trees along the creek where we live are exhibiting a bumper crop this year. At night we are…
Wednesday, 05 September 2007 00:00

Enchanting the summer evening

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No late summer wildflower is more widely recognized than evening primrose. The four broad yellow petals that open in the…
Wednesday, 29 August 2007 00:00

All in a day’s work

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One of the more interesting and entertaining early descriptive accounts of the southern mountains is contained in a diary kept…
Wednesday, 22 August 2007 00:00

Remarkable red cedar

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I sometimes have occasion to drive Interstate 81 up the Great Valley of Tennessee and Virginia to Washington, D.C. As…
Wednesday, 15 August 2007 00:00

Ginkgo — a living fossil

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When a street was being cut in front of the new county administration building here in Bryson City back in…
Wednesday, 08 August 2007 00:00

The golden season

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It’s starting to become the goldenrod time of the year. Goldenrods — like asters, thistles, cosmos, zinnias, daisies, coneflowers, dahlias,…
Wednesday, 01 August 2007 00:00

Hollyhocks and reminders of the past

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Sometimes it’s difficult to draw the line between the natural and cultivated plant worlds. As cultivated plants escape they often…
Wednesday, 25 July 2007 00:00

Sicklefin redhorse and the Cherokee

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An article by Jon Ostendorff headed “Rare fish released into Oconaluftee River” appeared in this past Monday’s edition of the…
Wednesday, 18 July 2007 00:00

The thrill of new discoveries

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I’ve had the opportunity to spend a lot of time recently up on the Blue Ridge Parkway conducting natural history…
Wednesday, 11 July 2007 00:00

A man’s got to work and fish

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This past Sunday afternoon I decided to go for a walk along the Tuckasegee River west of Bryson City. If…
Wednesday, 04 July 2007 00:00

Thunder in the valley

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Last week a late evening thunderstorm with high winds and occasional flashes of lightning rolled out of the high Smokies…
Wednesday, 27 June 2007 00:00

The elusive hellbender

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Have you ever noticed that once you start thinking about something or someone you haven’t seen in awhile, it’s not…
Wednesday, 20 June 2007 00:00

Beware the leaves of three

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If you like native Appalachian plants that are variable and adaptive, have interesting natural histories with abundant associations in both…
Wednesday, 06 June 2007 00:00

Weed or wildflower?

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The status of a given plant as either a “noxious weed” or a “lovely wildflower” is pretty much a matter…
Wednesday, 30 May 2007 00:00

Just looking around

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I’m rediscovering that it’s good to just slip out of the office and amble around town for a few minutes.…
Wednesday, 23 May 2007 00:00

The mountain rhodo show

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Rhododendrons are a part of the heath family (Ericaceae), which includes such diverse members in regard to size and habitat…