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This is the peculiar story of the land transactions, disputes, and incidents that led to the establishment of Bryson City…

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All of the spring flowering plants are early this year by as much as two to three weeks. Black locust…

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A mask is a mechanism employed to cover the face as a protective screen or disguise. For protection, they have…

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Editor’s note: This column first appeared in The Smoky Mountain News in April 2002. Have you ever looked at a…

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Belted kingfishers are one of my favorite birds, so much so that I wrote a poem years ago about anticipating…

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What’s in a name? Well, sometimes a lot, especially when you’re considering the names we assign plants. The striking little…

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Lots of people write haikus or haiku-like verse. This past year we had several haiku-writing fests at our house. House…

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When I started writing features for a newspaper in the late 1980s, I didn’t have much of a clue as…

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As indicated in recent Back Then columns, I've been of late walking some of the old trails along creeks in…

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I conduct workshops on Southeastern Indian history and culture at the John C. Campbell Folk School for two full weeks…

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The tapping of pileateds ... means attachment to a nest site and attachment of the members of a pair to…

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Olive Tilford Dargan is fairly well known in literary circles as the author of  From My Highest Hill (1941), a…

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The names Geronimo and Gen. George Cook are interwoven in the lore of northern Mexico, southeastern Arizona, western New Mexico…

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I am the summer … I am the firefly and the moon … the rain on the leaves the swamp…

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A new book has been published that will be of particular interest to area hunters, outdoorsmen, and dog lovers. It…

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A concept among biologists is that of “keystone species:” plants or animals with a pervasive influence on community composition and…

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Where do the poisonous snakes go in winter? In the Smokies region we have two poisonous species: timber rattlesnakes and…

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Along with plants like red spruce, Fraser fir, yellow birch, mountain maple, mountain ash, Canada Mayflower, witch-hobble, and bluebead lily,…

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Note: This essay was originally written for The Smoky Mountain News. It was subsequently revised and collected in Mountain Passages,…

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When one thinks about navigation in regard to the rivers here in the Smokies region, it’s old-time ferries and modern-day…

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Winter Light So much light in what we call the dark of the year, a flashing and glittering of light…

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Most of us at one time or another hanker for a place where we can get away from it all…

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Sometimes I find myself walking without having made a conscious decision to do so. My body seems to feel the…

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I have perused Kephart’s Camping and Woodcraft many times, but somehow or other had consistently overlooked his entry on lungwort…

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The second volume of an anthology of nature writing from Western North Carolina and the Great Smokies that I edited…

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“Sang” redux. Several weeks ago I wrote about ginseng. I have, in fact, been writing about ginseng for years. There…

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A mask is a mechanism employed to cover the face as a protective screen or disguise. For protection, they have…

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You don’t have to live in a cabin to get cabin fever. You can come down with a bad case…

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Roland M. Harper was born in Maine but spent practically his entire professional life in the South, where his work…

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The war in the Smokies proved to be … a curious conjunction of terrain, history, politics, and culture ... a…

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It’s that time of the year, and the hills are alive not with music but “sang” hunters. As of now…

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(Note: Since its publication several years ago, this column about Evan O. Hall has sparked a number of comments. Something…

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This is about frogs. Of late, I’ve been thinking about them … especially the frog that snores. As I recently…

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Earlier this week about nine in the morning, I was standing on the Everett Street bridge in the heart of…

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Usually I locate rare plants by visualizing them and visiting likely habitats. It’s as if I can will them into…

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The Eastern Screech Owl has the broadest ecological niche of any owl in its range. It occurs east of the…

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I started to write this column about Duane Oliver before I discovered that he has just published what he tells…

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About a year and a half ago I wrote a column titled “Mountain Topography and Language Lend Themselves to Colorful…

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Spring is the appointed time for the various wildflower pilgrimages and outings that attract thousands of visitors to the mountains…

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Lots of folks like to study those molded relief maps of the region, the ones that show the upraised contours…

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(Editor’s note: This column first appeared in The Smoky Mountain News in July 2005.) Are you by chance looking for…

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A portion of this Back Then column appeared in SMN in August 2004 as “A Box to Call Your Own.”…

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When walking a trail in the Smokies (or Nantahalas or Great Balsams or wherever) here in the southern Blue Ridge,…

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Identifying ferns is an entirely different process than, say, identifying wildflowers or trees. They don't display flowers, showy fruits, or…

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The elevations of the southern Blue Ridge province above 4,000 feet can be thought of as a peninsula of northern…

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I’ve always been interested in the processes by which we discover things. Being a naturalist, I’m most interested in the…

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“How many thousand-thousand of untold white ash trees are the respected companions of our doorways, kindliest trees in the clearing…

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ELDERBERRY WINE There’s a fly in the window A dog in the yard And a year since I saw you…

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Rural residents know the yellow-billed cuckoo as the “rain crow” or “storm crow” because its guttural “ka-ka-kow-kow-kowlp-kowlp-kowlp” seems to be…

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