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Serpents are among the world’s most storied creatures. We are at once attracted to and repelled by them. Many view…

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Mention magnolias and images of plantations and mint juleps come to mind. But here in Western North Carolina we have…

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More than a few readers of this column collect books associated with the Smokies region. A friend who spends most…

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Have you ever seen a mountain lion here in the Smokies region? I haven’t. In fact, the only one I’ve…

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As part of this coming weekend’s third annual Horace Kephart Day, a group of 20 or so participants will visit…

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This past Friday (April 15) I attended the dedication ceremony for the new Oconaluftee Visitor Center on the North Carolina…

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Flowing water was the primary agent that sculpted the mountains as we know them today. Long before the first Europeans…

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As I begin writing this it’s midnight, April 4-5, 2011. When insomnia strikes I always look for something to read.…

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Systems of mature trees and shrubs are covered with blemishes that signal age: cankers, seams, burls, butt scars, sterile conks,…

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From my window, as I write this, I can see across the creek and down into a pasture where my…

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Editor’s note: This George Ellison column first appeared in The Smoky Mountain News in March 2005. “Then Jonah prayed unto…

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During the course of a recent interview for a literary magazine, I was asked: While in grad school at the…

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Hiking a designated trail involves prescribed origins and destinations, whether it be a four-mile jaunt from Clingman’s Dome to Siler’s…

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I spent some time last week reading about the 18th-century Indian wars in Western North Carolina. These were the Cherokee…

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(Editor’s note: This is the second of a two-part series regarding the Cherokee Ghost Dance.) A recent column focused on…

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Editor’s note: The second installment in George Ellison’s research into the Ghost Dance has been delayed due to the inability…

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(Note: This is part one of a two-part series regarding the Cherokee Ghost Dance. Part two will present Michelene Ethe…

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If you don’t like dogs, come back next week. Dogs have been an integral part of my life since I…

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Are there boardinghouses still operating here in the Smokies region? There are, of course, hotels, inns, bed-and-breakfasts, and motels galore.…

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Editor’s note: George Ellison is snowed in without an Internet connection. This column first appeared in The Smoky Mountain News…

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Winter is the season for thinking about pines. For the ancient Orientals, pines signified dignity and vitality, especially in old…

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Editor’s note: This George Ellison column was first published in December 2004. Most everyone agrees that marriage is a noble…

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Each of us inhabits several landscapes. On the one hand, there is our everyday exterior topographic landscape. We call it…

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Editor’s note: George Ellison, like many in the mountains, was snowed in and unable to get an internet connection. This…

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I am fascinated by those images from the natural world that remain with us for a lifetime — almost as…

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I write this from my “office” (a spare room) at home. Looking out the window, I can see the creek…

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Ho down down … Ho down dee Red bird dancin in custody Way down in New Orleans. Ho down down…

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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,…

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Buffalo Branch ... Buffalo Creek ... Buffalo Cove ... all are common place names that indicate the prior residence of…

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Allow me to introduce you to a friend of mine. His name is Han Shan. He is among the finest…

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The unusually dry, warm days this month have resulted in a delayed color season as well as an abundance of…

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One of the more interesting stories concerning this region is that of the kaolin mining industry. It began more than…

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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…

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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…

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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”…

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“Oh, what is that shiny stuff in the rocks?” someone will ask during any sort of outing. And invariably, someone…

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Saturday morning … sitting alone at the kitchen table … nothing much going on … looking out the window ……

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Monday morning … 9:15 or so … suddenly the coyote was there … as if from out of nowhere ……

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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…

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High-elevation overlooks are one of our finest natural resources. These vantage points allow us to rise above our everyday humdrum…

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The come back of the wild turkey in the southern mountains in recent years is one of the notable success…

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Are you by chance looking for a high-elevation day-hike that embodies quite a bit of the region’s human history? If…

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If you have a recently cleared area on your property or in your neighborhood, there's an excellent chance that jimson…

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This seems to be a scarlet tanager kind of year. I’ve been seeing and hearing them at my house, along…

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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…

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Five turtle species reside in Western North Carolina: snapping, musk, and painted turtles are primarily found in streams, lakes, and…

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Historian E. Raymond Adams has maintained that the warrior with the curious name of Dragging Canoe was “the greatest military…

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From time to time, I’ve discussed in this space various plants the Cherokees and early settlers utilized for medicinal, edible…

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Weather continues to be the enduring topic for conversation here in the Smokies region. Long after the Eric Rudolph furor…

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