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I have two options when driving back and forth from home to town. One is along a river and the…

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I’m sometimes asked if the prehistoric Cherokees used any sort of poisons on their blowgun darts. These darts (slivers of…

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Earlier this morning (Tuesday, March 26) I gazed wishfully through my office window here in Bryson City. About all I…

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It’s just about morel time. By early April (if not sooner), the succulent spring-fruiting fungi that are the most sought…

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Like Old Esdras in the Bible, some live in a land of milk and honey. Here in the Blue Ridge,…

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As you read this it may well be freezing or even icy outside. But before long you’ll be outside working…

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I like “old time rock and roll” too. And I recently got some of my old time records, CDs, iPods,…

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In the natural world there are certain experiences that rivet our attention and remain stored in our memory banks. Through…

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About once a year or less, I work up the nerve to publish poems in this space. Head for cover.…

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Surprisingly, a recent column about wood-burning cookstoves attracted as much attention as anything I’ve written for years. Folks who live…

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I wrote a tribute to the black locust tree some time back. It’s time to take another look. This time…

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“The opportunistic nature of the species and its partial indifference to constraints of time and space make it an intriguing…

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For some, graveyards are morbid places. When I was a boy, I never liked to pass by or walk through…

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Where have all the opossums gone? People worry about cerulean warblers and frogs and honeybees and ash trees and hemlocks…

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Tuckaseigee, Oconaluftee, Heintooga, Wayah, Cullasaja, Hiwassee, Coweeta, Stecoah, Steestachee, Skeenah, Nantahala, Aquone, Katuwah, and on and on. Our place names…

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“I am developing a taste for walking in cemeteries.” – Jules Renard, “Journals” (December 1909) Like Jules Renard, a turn-of-the-century…

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Most people who hunt mushrooms do so in late summer and fall when an array of choice edibles are abundant…

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Is there another region in the United States that has had more flourishing towns and villages disappear than the one…

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When I was a boy my favorite sport was baseball. I was a pitcher. I didn’t have any idea where…

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Because they seem so delicate and vulnerable, we go out of our way to feed birds that overwinter here in…

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Kathryn Stripling Byer lives in Cullowhee. Poet Laureate Emeritas of North Carolina for a number of years, she was this…

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In regard to floral diversity, the Southern Appalachian region is unsurpassed by any other temperate region in the world. Whenever…

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This is a bear story. Unlike many bear stories, this one is true. Tourism started in Western North Carolina during…

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When I was a child living in Boonville, N.C., a town of 600 people, my mother would load us into…

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All too often, we tend to think of flowering plants as something beautiful put on this earth to stimulate human…

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We are attracted to water. Mountain paths always wind down to water ... down to springs, creeks and rivers. Water…

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Migrating rose-breasted grosbeaks have been appearing at feeders throughout the Smokies region in recent weeks. Those birds that migrate hundreds…

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It’s Oct. 7 as I write this. The first hard frost hasn’t as yet arrived. But it won’t be long…

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Allergies are a type of immune reaction. Normally, the immune system responds to foreign microorganisms, or particles, like pollen or…

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Most wildflower enthusiasts quite naturally hone in on the showy flowering phase of a plant’s life cycle for observation, identification…

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Geographically speaking, where are the Great Smoky Mountains in regard to the other mountain ranges in the southern Appalachians. Where…

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Few people want to get close enough to observe the attractive flowers that kudzu produces. The plant probably won’t actually…

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Let’s suppose that you intentionally or unintentionally insult someone; after all, that’s something that does happen from time to time.…

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Numerous geologists have visited the Smokies region. None was more observant than Arthur Keith. The Murphy Marble Belt is an…

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The creeks and streams of the Southern Highlands are one of the most exciting natural areas we have. Unlike most…

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Samuel J. Hunnicutt was one of the original characters of the Smokies region before the Great Smoky Mountains National Park…

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The late summer wildflower season has arrived. Along roadsides and woodland edges some of our more robust native plants are…

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Dogs have been a part of my life since I was a boy. My first dog — part one thing,…

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Green used to be the color that caught my eye. Now it’s blue. So much so that I wrote an…

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Some plants like Jack-in-the-pulpit and Dutchman’s-pipe have evolved methods of entrapping insects in their flowers so as to assure pollination.…

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Here I sit by my window watching the creek go by with nothing in particular to write about except the…

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For me, those plants found here in the Smokies region that have verified practical human uses are, in the long…

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This is about critters and plants that sting and itch. There are lots of things out there in the woods…

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A couple of weeks ago I wrote about scarlet tanagers, a showy rather common species I assumed most were familiar…

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Season in and season out, one of the more interesting common plants in our woodlands is sassafras, which may be…

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“The scarlet tanager flies through the green foliage as if it would ignite the leaves. You can hardly believe that…

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The announcement in November 1989 that the remote 6,300-acre Panthertown Valley tract in Jackson County had passed into the public…

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“Ere the bat hath flown His cloister’d flight … to black Hecate’s summons The shard-borne beetle with his drowsy hums…

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Through the years I have attempted to describe the flora of the Smokies region for newspaper, magazine and book readers.…

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