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mtnvoicesMost wildflower enthusiasts quite naturally hone in on the showy flowering phase of a plant’s life cycle for observation, identification and enjoyment. Only slowly do we learn to appreciate the post-flowering phase.

back thenGeographically speaking, where are the Great Smoky Mountains in regard to the other mountain ranges in the southern Appalachians. Where is the line between the southern and the northern Appalachians? In other words, where are we?

mtn voicesFew people want to get close enough to observe the attractive flowers that kudzu produces. The plant probably won’t actually reach out and grab you — but then again, it might.

One of the many kudzu jokes that has emerged in the southeastern United States since its introduction goes, “If you’re going to plant kudzu, drop it and run.” There’s a certain logic in this piece of advice since the “mile-a-minute vine” grows as much as 12 inches in 24 hours and up to 50 feet in a single season.

mtn voicesLet’s suppose that you intentionally or unintentionally insult someone; after all, that’s something that does happen from time to time. You deal with it by apologizing or refusing to apologize. There may be words. The possibility of a little fisticuffs isn’t beyond the realm of possibility; after all, if push comes to shove ... well, that happens ... somebody gets a bloody nose or black eye ... no big deal.

mtn voicesNumerous geologists have visited the Smokies region. None was more observant than Arthur Keith.

The Murphy Marble Belt is an elongated, lens-shaped mass of marble and related sedimentary materials up to three miles wide that extends in a crescent from northwestern Georgia into Cherokee and Swain counties. This lens also contains talc, limestone, soapstone, and calcareous soils. The first two materials are still mined at the Nantahala Talc and Limestone Co. in the Nantahala Gorge. But it was marble that was once the linchpin of the area’s mining interests.

mtnvoicesThe creeks and streams of the Southern Highlands are one of the most exciting natural areas we have. Unlike most upland habitats — which generally occur as blocks or patches or elevational zones — streams form winding corridors that afford varied niches for plants and animals that can’t adapt to a linear lifestyle.

mtnvoicesSamuel J. Hunnicutt was one of the original characters of the Smokies region before the Great Smoky Mountains National Park was founded in 1934. He is far less well known than Quill Rose, Horace Kephart, or Mark Cathey, but he was in their mold: eccentric, amusing and competent in all things having to do with outdoor life.

back thenThe late summer wildflower season has arrived. Along roadsides and woodland edges some of our more robust native plants are now coming into full bloom. By “robust” I mean high growing and stout. These would include wild lettuce, common mullein, Joe Pye weed, green-headed coneflower, bull thistle, various species of woodland sunflowers, crown beard, boneset, white snakeroot, New York ironweed, cardinal flower, and many others.

mtn voicesDogs have been a part of my life since I was a boy. My first dog — part one thing, part another — was named Rascal. I was a sophomore in college when Rascal had to be put to sleep.

Other dogs have followed: cocker spaniels; a long line of beagles, several named Toby; and more recently German shorthaired pointers. Shorthairs are the best breed of dog in the world. I will allow that they can be somewhat uppity and arrogant, when need be, but for the most part they are companionable, curious, bright-eyed, humorous, and generally reliable dogs.    

mtn voicesGreen used to be the color that caught my eye. Now it’s blue. So much so that I wrote an ode (of sorts) to the color blue that is in my book Permanent Camp. It goes like this:

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