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Our elementary school primers were populated by robins pulling worms out of holes. They appeared on television screens on Saturday…

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Before the settlement named Charleston became the village named Bryson City in 1889, it was a tract of land known…

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Old-time mountaineers often picked their home and church sites according to the location and purity of springs. They were connoisseurs…

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A large buckeye tree overhangs and supports the swinging gate leading into and out of our pasture. Since we are…

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“Hay fever: An acute allergic condition of the mucous membranes of the upper respiratory tract and the eyes, characterized by…

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Two well known sites in Swain County were named for Col. Thaddeus Dillard Bryson, a significant figure in Western North…

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Lungwort is the leaf-like lichen common on tree trunks several feet or more above ground level. It resembles liverwort but…

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“Seeds of this common weed do indeed contain an hallucinogenic component, but, as is so often the case, the same chemical…

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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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Certain place names in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park have become iconic: Gregory Bald, Thunderhead, Chimney Tops, Jump-off, Mt.…

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Like poisonous serpents, some plants developed toxic properties in order to protect themselves against predators. Besides insects, the major plant…

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This past weekend marked the occasion of the 32nd annual Great Smokies Birding Expedition. Fred Alsop, the ornithologist at East…

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Forty years ago this coming July 5, my wife, Elizabeth, and I and our three children moved into a small…

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“Marvel for a moment at the fern fiddlehead. It stands like a watch spring coiled and ready to unwind ……

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The cove we live in has been alive with birds for several weeks now. As alive with birds as it’s…

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In the early 1700s British astronomer and mathematician Edmund Hillary, of comet fame, called [the spiral formed by a fern’s…

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Last summer while I was walking along the creek below our home, small splotches of red and white at the…

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Hog Holler, Hog Branch, Hog Camp Branch, Hog Cane Branch, Hog-eye Branch, Hogback Gap, Hogback Holler, Hogback Knob, Hogback Ridge,…

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There seems to be an upsurge of interest in ironwood in Western North Carolina of late. It’s curious how reader…

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The evergreen plants and birds that overwinter here in the Southern Appalachians have made fundamental “choices” in how their lives…

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Well, I knew it would happen sooner or later. Our house has been invaded by a herd of pygmy rhinoceroses,…

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“As for the Horseshoe Rock, it is one of those curving balds of solid rock. The depressions found on the…

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In 1900 about 35 percent of the deciduous forest in the Southern Appalachians was comprised of American chestnut (Castanea dentata).

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One of my favorite times to observe ferns is in winter when they stand out in the brown leaf-litter. Of…

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Looking back I can remember that 1975 was a wildflower sort of year.   1980 was a tree sort of year. 1984 was…

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It’s Oct. 6 as I write this. The first frost hasn’t as yet arrived. But it won’t be long coming.…

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In the June 14, 2004, issue of The New Yorker magazine, there is an essay titled “Blocked! Why Do Writers…

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I don’t like to talk or write about writing — but when forced to do so by, say, an approaching…

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“It’s football time in Tennessee!” is what John Ward, the long-time announcer for the University of Tennessee, used to declare…

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When it rains it pours. Within the past week or so, I received two emails about plant galls. That’s two…

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When my son, now grown, was about 9 or 10, he queried me one summer day about the foamy bubbles…

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Hog Holler, Hog Branch, Hog Camp Branch, Hog Cane Branch, Hog-eye Branch, Hogback Gap, Hogback Holler, Hogback Knob, Hogback Ridge,…

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It’s mid-June again … the time of the year when certain plants can be relied upon to do their thing…

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Certain questions inevitably pop up during plant identification outings. One has to do with whether or not eastern hemlock trees…

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A friend of mine who is a veteran backcountry explorer in the Smokies sent a recent email to me and…

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For awhile everything was in control. But that didn’t last. It never does. Once again my books are in total…

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“The cascading, four foot, doubly-compound leaves of devil’s walking stick, bunched near the end of long crooked thorny stems reaching…

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Unfortunately, more undeserved prejudice exists about bats than any other animal, except, of course, serpents.  In European lore, vampires (a…

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Purple rhododendron is the most admired flowering plant in the Southern Appalachians. Ginseng is the most celebrated medicinal plant. And…

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As I write this on Tuesday morning there are five or so inches of snow covering the ground outside my…

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“A countryman’s tree is the Butternut, known to the farm boy but not his city cousin. One who takes thoughtful…

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“Two or more Families join together in building a hot-house, about 30 feet Diameter, and 15 feet high, in form…

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Since 1976 we’ve resided in a cove about four miles west of Bryson City. Using various old deeds my wife,…

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Now is the time to make resolutions, order seeds for the coming year’s garden and buy an almanac for 2015.…

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The custom of decorating with mistletoe goes back to the ceremonials of the Druids. It is a reminder of the…

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One of my favorite times to observe ferns is in winter when they stand out in the brown leaf-litter. Of…

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During the breeding season a number of birds that belong to the flycatcher family appear in the southern mountains: eastern…

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Names of places throughout the Blue Ridge country pay tribute to the familiar wildlife of the region: Bear Wallow Stand…

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It’s always entertaining to get back off main-traveled roads and poke around in the little villages here in the mountains.…

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