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We’re been considering books and related matters like shelving, bookplates, home libraries, favorite books, and (last week’s topic) — “How…

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Of late, we’ve been considering books. The feedback (mostly email) from readers to recent columns regarding books in general, book…

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The feedback (mostly email) from readers to recent columns regarding books in general, book shelving strategies, and bookplates has been…

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Several weeks ago, I devoted a column to the complicated science of book shelving. Not a few readers responded —…

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My weekly deadline is looming. I’m not sure how this is going to turn out. But I’ve been thinking about…

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It’s Saturday night as I write this .... going on toward midnight. I read the thermometer mounted outside the kitchen…

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Some readers might recall that three weeks ago — in a column about relocating my long lost inscribed copy of…

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I enjoy using variants on the phrase “lay of the land.” One can “get the lay of the land” in…

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This past weekend was given over to reorganizing the books in my home library. In the process, I relocated a…

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You can almost smell the word “evergreen.” The word is at once one of the most aptly descriptive and highly…

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The professional career of biologist Millard C. (“Bill”) Davis — who was born in 1930 in Utica, N.Y., and now…

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One of my favorite accounts of this region’s varied history is provided by John Preston Arthur, who published his 659-page…

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The New Year has arrived and the great horned owls have commenced their annual “singing” along the dark ridges. These…

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This marks my tenth year of writing a weekly Back Then column for The Smoky Mountain News. In all that…

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For my wife, Elizabeth, and me, winter doesn’t arrive until the first of each year. From now until spring is…

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Each season has characteristic features that signal its arrival. Winter is no exception. Two of my winter favorites: mistletoe and…

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The economic destiny of a given region is ultimately determined by its geology, flora and climate. That’s certainly been the…

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Junaluska waterfowl are plentiful, varied A quick turn around Lake Junaluska last Sunday revealed 13 species of waterfowl and/or wetland…

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Five skunk species are residents in the United States: hooded, hog-nosed, western spotted, eastern spotted, and striped. Only the last…

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You’ve noticed how old barns are recognized as special places? When a person says, “I’m going down to the barn,”…

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Let us consider the relationship between grassy balds, Tom Alexander and the self-proclaimed “Potato and Rutabaga King of Haywood County.”…

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Flowing water is as central to life here in Western North Carolina as the mountains themselves. You can’t have ancient…

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One can still see why flatlanders started pouring into the Cashiers-Highlands region after the Civil War. The scenic ridge, valley…

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We tend to hone in on the showy flowering phase of a plant’s life for observation, identification, and enjoyment. But…

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Editor’s note: George Ellison is on sabbatical this week and will return next week. This is a previously published column.…

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Arthur Stupka (1905-1999) was the first naturalist in the National Park Service in the eastern United States. That was at…

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I have nothing to add to Gary Carden’s perceptive review of Horace Kephart’s posthumous novel Smoky Mountain Magic (Great Smoky…

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Western Carolina University biologist Jim Costa traces his interest in insect societies to studies of social interactions of caterpillars made…

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Naturalist, herbalist, lecturer, writer, adventure trip leader, folklorist and prize-winning harmonica player Doug Elliott has a new book. Titled Swarm…

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Angler and writer Harry Middleton (1949-1993) is an elusive figure. Except for what he chose to reveal in his books…

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Those of you who enjoy reading books about the Smokies should make an effort to locate a copy of Hidden…

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Biologist and ecologist Robert Zahner (1923-2007) was born in Summerville, S.C., and grew up in Atlanta. But his adopted “spiritual…

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Naturalist, photographer and writer Edwin Way Teale (1899-1980) was born in Joliet, Ill. American nature writing in descriptive prose inevitably…

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Radical ecologist and writer Edward Abbey (1927-1989) was born in Home, Penn., the son of a hardscrabble farmer and a…

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Anthropologist James Mooney (1861-1921) devoted his life to detailing various aspects of the history, material culture, oral tradition, language, arts,…

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Jewelweed, or “touch-me-not,” is one of the most appealing wildflowers commonly encountered throughout Western North Carolina. Many recognize the plant…

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Horace Kephart is best known for Our Southern Highlanders (first published in 1913, with an expanded edition in 1922) and…

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One of the best pieces of advice I ever received in regard to learning wildflowers was to “concentrate on one…

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Interesting wildflowers appear throughout Western North Carolina from late February into early November. Most wildflower identification and observation takes place…

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(Editors Note: George Ellison is on leave this week. But he says that his pawpaw trees have even more fruit…

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The natural history of a region consists of the plants, animals, and landscapes we can see and explore any given…

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I enjoy leading natural history workshops, but I no longer derive much pleasure from herding people along a trail while…

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Is this going to be a bumper year for wild mushrooms? Maybe so, if the rainfall we have been experiencing…

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Elevations above 4,000 feet in the Blue Ridge Province can be thought of as a peninsula of northern terrain extending…

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Spiders are one of the most interesting — and sometimes disconcerting — critters to observe. Especially fascinating, to me, are…

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Belted kingfishers are one of my favorite birds. A pair fishes along the small creek on our property during the…

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In the opaque early-morning light outside our bedroom windows, the birds that reside in our woods — or do we…

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For some years now — when walking the woodlands around ancient Cherokee settlements — I have been on the lookout…

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Fiddleheads are emerging from the leaf litter in our forests. Almost everyone, even those not especially interested in plants, has…

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