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Wednesday, 22 September 2010 20:01

Mica — from art to technology

“Oh, what is that shiny stuff in the rocks?” someone will ask during any sort of outing. And invariably, someone in the group will reply, “Oh, that’s just mica.” I think to myself, “How could anything so pretty be ‘just…
Wednesday, 02 December 2009 14:31

Memories from ‘up at the barn’

You’ve noticed how old barns are recognized as special places? When a person says, “I’m going down to the barn,” he or she always emphasizes the “the.” That’s because each barn is a unique entity. They hold special associations. But…
Wednesday, 09 December 2009 15:13

A skunk by any other name

Five skunk species are residents in the United States: hooded, hog-nosed, western spotted, eastern spotted, and striped. Only the last two reside in the Smokies region. The striped skunk — which is black with two white stripes running up its…
Wednesday, 16 December 2009 12:59

Early mapping of the Nantahala

The economic destiny of a given region is ultimately determined by its geology, flora and climate. That’s certainly been the instance here in the Smokies region, where logging and mining have been supplanted as the major industries by recreation and…
Wednesday, 16 December 2009 12:59

The Naturalist's Corner

Junaluska waterfowl are plentiful, varied A quick turn around Lake Junaluska last Sunday revealed 13 species of waterfowl and/or wetland birds. This tiny (200-acre) clear dot nestled at 2,500 feet in the highest county east of the Mississippi River must…
Wednesday, 23 December 2009 13:45

Mistletoe and sycamore ring in winter

Each season has characteristic features that signal its arrival. Winter is no exception. Two of my winter favorites: mistletoe and sycamore. Coon Cove — the name assigned to our valley on a late 19th century deed — is surrounded on…
Wednesday, 30 December 2009 15:54

The colors of winter

For my wife, Elizabeth, and me, winter doesn’t arrive until the first of each year. From now until spring is our finest season. She doesn’t have to keep her gallery-studio on the town square in Bryson City open all the…
Wednesday, 04 November 2009 20:00

The grand finale

We tend to hone in on the showy flowering phase of a plant’s life for observation, identification, and enjoyment. But the greatest pleasure in coming to recognize and appreciate plants occurs when we learn to follow favorite plants from their…
Wednesday, 11 November 2009 13:37

Satulah has long been a WNC favorite

One can still see why flatlanders started pouring into the Cashiers-Highlands region after the Civil War. The scenic ridge, valley and gorge country here remains one of the most interesting areas in Western North Carolina to explore. Some of the…
Wednesday, 18 November 2009 14:05

Creeks form character across WNC

Flowing water is as central to life here in Western North Carolina as the mountains themselves. You can’t have ancient mountains like these without the seeps, springs, branches, creeks and rivers that sculpted them. The word “creek” — a shallow…
Wednesday, 25 November 2009 14:36

Rutabagas and history of Hemphill Bald

Let us consider the relationship between grassy balds, Tom Alexander and the self-proclaimed “Potato and Rutabaga King of Haywood County.” Highland sites at about 5,000 feet of elevation in the Smokies region were often given over to potato farming —…
Wednesday, 07 October 2009 15:28

Costa’s eye for unique insect details

Western Carolina University biologist Jim Costa traces his interest in insect societies to studies of social interactions of caterpillars made while an undergraduate at the State University of New York at Cortland, an interest that deepened as he worked on…
Wednesday, 14 October 2009 15:50

Kephart’s fast friendship with the Barnetts

I have nothing to add to Gary Carden’s perceptive review of Horace Kephart’s posthumous novel Smoky Mountain Magic (Great Smoky Mountains Association, 2009) that appeared in last week’s “Smoky Mountain News.” I do, however, have a query regarding Bob Barnett,…
Wednesday, 21 October 2009 19:29

A great observer of the Smokies

Arthur Stupka (1905-1999) was the first naturalist in the National Park Service in the eastern United States. That was at Arcadia National Park in Maine, shortly before he became chief naturalist in the newly founded Great Smoky Mountains National Park.…
Wednesday, 28 October 2009 20:31

Withstanding winter’s cold

Editor’s note: George Ellison is on sabbatical this week and will return next week. This is a previously published column. As I write this on Monday morning, we’ve just had our initial hard frost of the year here in Swain…
The sweltering heat this summer is restricting some outdoor activities, but it’s a prime time for lizard watching. Lizards don’t mind the heat; indeed, many of them are highly adapted to dry climatic conditions. Lizard watching can be done from…
Wednesday, 28 July 2010 13:19

Blooms in the southern mountains

Each July since 1991, I’ve led field trips along the Blue Ridge Parkway offered as part of the Native Plants Conference sponsored by Western Carolina University. This year’s outings (July 25) will have taken place by the time you read…
Wednesday, 11 August 2010 14:00

The secretive, intelligent and prolific crow

Like most commonly observed objects, crows flit across our field of vision unheeded. Caw-caw-cawing unmusically … flap-flap-flapping over the fields … dressed as if for a funeral … iridescent pieces of black flannel waving in the breeze. We hear and…
Wednesday, 02 June 2010 19:59

Rediscovering inspiration

In the mid-1970s my primary writing interest was poetry. I was consumed night and day by poetry for perhaps five years and took part in poetry readings throughout the southern mountains. Some poems were published in little magazines like “Wind,”…
Monday, 30 August 2010 14:12

A unique old time reporter

Many characters surface in stories related to Horace Kephart, regional author and one of the founders of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. F.A. Behymer, a journalist from St. Louis who would have been aware of the basic story behind…
Wednesday, 23 June 2010 14:53

Beekeeping in the mountains

Editor’s note: This column first appeared in The Smoky Mountain News in June 2003. Honey was a primary sweetening agent for the early settlers here in the Smokies region. And to this day there are numerous beekeepers in the region.…
Wednesday, 30 June 2010 15:13

Secret poems of the Cherokee

I have always been struck by the sacred formulas (chants or incantations) that the Cherokee medicine men used to create good luck in hunting or warfare, in healing, or in affairs of the heart. The evil medicine men or “witches”…
Tuesday, 31 August 2010 20:31

A coyote in the yard

Monday morning … 9:15 or so … suddenly the coyote was there … as if from out of nowhere … a shadow moving in the pasture across the creek.   I had glanced out of my workroom window moments before…
Wednesday, 26 May 2010 12:34

A place called home

One doesn’t tire of certain places. Even though they inevitably change through the years, they become more than friends. The cove we live in has become that sort of place even though, in most ways, it’s just another mountain cove.…
Wednesday, 19 May 2010 13:19

Do you know where you live?

One of the handouts I use during natural history workshops is headed “Southern Blue Ridge Province: Geographic Location and Influences.” It is the best “concise” approximation of the situation that I have been able to devise, as yet. I revise…
Wednesday, 12 May 2010 15:18

The cuckoo, both elusive and beautiful

This past weekend marked the 26th annual Great Smokies Birding Expedition, a gathering of onrnithologically-inclined friends. On Saturdays, to get things started, we always walk around Bryson City, tallying the common species that prefer a semi-urban setting. The highlight of…
Wednesday, 05 May 2010 15:14

Celebrating Kephart, and his teacup

This past weekend marked the second annual Horace Kephart celebration in Bryson City. There was a terrific presentation of newly surfaced George Masa photographs moderated by Masa biographer Bill Hart. Daniel Gore brought his band from Washington State to play…
Wednesday, 07 April 2010 17:37

Iconic drugstore to interesting bookstore

We’re been considering books and related matters like shelving, bookplates, home libraries, favorite books, and (last week’s topic) — “How do we go about discovering the next book we’re going to read?” This week we’re going to do something worthwhile…
Wednesday, 14 April 2010 17:37

Remembering when books were magic

We’re still at it—considering books and related matters like shelving strategies, bookplates, home libraries, favorite books, and “How do we go about discovering the next book we’re going to read?” This could go on forever. This week, not having anything…
Wednesday, 21 April 2010 17:37

Kephart’s persona was well crafted

Our consideration of “books and all things related” continues with a look at an instance when a well-known author (and former librarian) chose to disguise his reading so as to create a literary persona. Horace Kephart was often guarded, sometimes…
Wednesday, 28 April 2010 17:37

Admiration, maybe, but no love for the boar

Numerous non-native plants have been introduced into the southern mountains during the last century or so. Many are now classified by wildlife biologists as “exotic pests.” Few would argue that kudzu does not fall into this category. And without doubt,…
Wednesday, 03 March 2010 16:12

The calm of a winter’s night

It’s Saturday night as I write this .... going on toward midnight. I read the thermometer mounted outside the kitchen through the windowpane with a flashlight. 30-degrees. Not bad. A light frost is forming on the grass in the pasture.…
My weekly deadline is looming. I’m not sure how this is going to turn out. But I’ve been thinking about it, and I’m fairly sure it’s going to be a rambling essay about Horace Kephart, author of Our Southern Highlanders,…
Wednesday, 17 March 2010 18:34

Book lovers and our new bookplates

Several weeks ago, I devoted a column to the complicated science of book shelving. Not a few readers responded — often with descriptions of their systems, which they deemed infallible. Shelving by fiction and non-fiction and leaving it at that…
Wednesday, 24 March 2010 19:03

Imagining a one-book library

The feedback (mostly email) from readers to recent columns regarding books in general, book shelving strategies, and bookplates has been both surprising and interesting. It encourages me to proceed in that vein. Down the line, we might consider public libraries…
Wednesday, 31 March 2010 15:01

The art of choosing the next book

Of late, we’ve been considering books. The feedback (mostly email) from readers to recent columns regarding books in general, book shelving strategies, bookplates, home libraries, favorite books, and so on, has been instructive. Before we move on to this week’s…
Wednesday, 03 February 2010 15:01

Simple signs of the evergreen

You can almost smell the word “evergreen.” The word is at once one of the most aptly descriptive and highly evocative botanical terms. Simply reading or hearing it conjures up a mix of personal associations with particular landscapes. Evergreens are…
Wednesday, 10 February 2010 17:04

A taste of Appalachian poetry

This past weekend was given over to reorganizing the books in my home library. In the process, I relocated a volume of poems I had feared was long lost. My favorite “Appalachian” poets would be Robert Morgan, Kay Stripling Byer,…
Tuesday, 07 September 2010 20:41

From the composition book…

Saturday morning … sitting alone at the kitchen table … nothing much going on … looking out the window … watching the bend in the creek and the bend in the path that leads up to the bend in the…
Wednesday, 17 February 2010 17:10

Topography and language

I enjoy using variants on the phrase “lay of the land.” One can “get the lay of the land” in a number of ways. If your hiking partner says that he or she is “going on ahead to get the…
Wednesday, 06 January 2010 15:43

Aspects of life from a rural cove

This marks my tenth year of writing a weekly Back Then column for The Smoky Mountain News. In all that time I have belabored neither editors nor readers with my poetry. Brace yourselves. The time has come. It is winter…
Wednesday, 13 January 2010 16:12

Masters of the night sky

The New Year has arrived and the great horned owls have commenced their annual “singing” along the dark ridges. These birds don’t sing, of course, in the manner of true songbirds like warblers and orioles — but the quick cadence…
Wednesday, 20 January 2010 16:12

A look at John Preston Arthur

One of my favorite accounts of this region’s varied history is provided by John Preston Arthur, who published his 659-page volume titled Western North Carolina: A History (From 1730 to 1913) in 1914. Originally published by The Edward Buncombe Chapter…
Wednesday, 27 January 2010 17:37

Davis was a poetic nature writer

The professional career of biologist Millard C. (“Bill”) Davis — who was born in 1930 in Utica, N.Y., and now resides in Dunnellon, Fla. – included stints as a teacher and editor in various capacities. He has been president of…
Wednesday, 24 February 2010 17:50

Perfecting the art of shelving books

Some readers might recall that three weeks ago — in a column about relocating my long lost inscribed copy of James Still’s “Hounds on the Mountain” — I mentioned in passing that the book had reappeared as I was in…
Tuesday, 06 July 2010 21:01

Rekindling memories of High Rocks

This is about a place, High Rocks, a lookout situated at just over 5,000 feet on Welch Ridge in the national park. Welch Ridge is the massive divide between Forney and Hazel creeks on the North Carolina side of the…
Wednesday, 09 June 2010 13:29

An ongoing preservation

This past week, we took our 11-year-old granddaughter, Daisy, who is visiting from Colorado, to the Cherokee Indian Village. She had been reading about the Cherokees and wanted to see “real Indians.” The tour was excellent. There were plenty of…
Wednesday, 02 September 2009 14:28

A natural passion for history

Naturalist, photographer and writer Edwin Way Teale (1899-1980) was born in Joliet, Ill. American nature writing in descriptive prose inevitably flows from Henry David Thoreau, that insistent observer of the commonplace. John Burroughs, his 19th century follower, was the first…
Wednesday, 09 September 2009 14:47

Zahner’s special affection for Highlands

Biologist and ecologist Robert Zahner (1923-2007) was born in Summerville, S.C., and grew up in Atlanta. But his adopted “spiritual home” was the elevated plateau on the southeastern cusp of the Blue Ridge where Highlands is situated. Through the years,…
Wednesday, 16 September 2009 15:49

A gifted writer, a great naturalist

Those of you who enjoy reading books about the Smokies should make an effort to locate a copy of Hidden Valley of the Smokies: With a Naturalist in the Great Smoky Mountains (Dodd, Mead & Company, 1971) by Ross E.…
Wednesday, 23 September 2009 18:15

Revealing a love for the Smokies

Angler and writer Harry Middleton (1949-1993) is an elusive figure. Except for what he chose to reveal in his books — which are part memoir and part novel — little is known, outside of family and friends, about his too…
Wednesday, 30 September 2009 19:10

Storytelling traditions live on

Naturalist, herbalist, lecturer, writer, adventure trip leader, folklorist and prize-winning harmonica player Doug Elliott has a new book. Titled Swarm Tree: Of Honeybees, Honeymoons, and the Tree of Life (Charleston, SC: The History Press; soft cover; 160 pages; illustrated by…
Wednesday, 05 August 2009 20:02

Letting nature point the way

Horace Kephart is best known for Our Southern Highlanders (first published in 1913, with an expanded edition in 1922) and his role in helping to found the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. But he also published a book that is…
Wednesday, 12 August 2009 13:29

Touch-me-nots and poison ivy

Jewelweed, or “touch-me-not,” is one of the most appealing wildflowers commonly encountered throughout Western North Carolina. Many recognize the plant from the time it appears in early spring as a pale green seedling, on through the long and showy summertime…
Wednesday, 19 August 2009 14:29

Preserving Cherokee tradition

Anthropologist James Mooney (1861-1921) devoted his life to detailing various aspects of the history, material culture, oral tradition, language, arts, and religion of the Eastern Cherokee, Cheyenne, Sioux, Kiowa, and other tribes, adding a new dimension to the writing of…
Wednesday, 26 August 2009 14:53

Abbey’s tenure at ‘Redneck U’

Radical ecologist and writer Edward Abbey (1927-1989) was born in Home, Penn., the son of a hardscrabble farmer and a schoolteacher. Hitchhiking as an adolescent through the western United States initiated a lifelong identity with that region. After being discharged…
Wednesday, 29 September 2010 12:57

‘Jack of all trades’ common in Appalachia

Here in the Smokies region “making do” isn’t a lost art. Most “country” men and women can still “get along” because they grew up doing so. And the “jack-of-all-trades” era isn’t ancient history — it lasted on mountain farms until…
Wednesday, 06 October 2010 20:37

Dialect of the southern highlands

I’m no expert on regional linguistics, but through the years I have delighted in the dialect English still spoken here in the Smokies region. One sometimes hears or reads that it dates back to the Elizabethan era; that is, to…
Wednesday, 01 July 2009 17:36

A nose for finding rare plants

I enjoy leading natural history workshops, but I no longer derive much pleasure from herding people along a trail while naming things right and left. What continues to motivate me is helping participants learn to use specific source and identification…
Wednesday, 08 July 2009 19:32

From the chaos come ‘uktena’

The natural history of a region consists of the plants, animals, and landscapes we can see and explore any given day. But no full comprehension of any region can be had without coming to some understanding of its spiritual terrain.…
Wednesday, 15 July 2009 19:59

Pawpaw is unique among fruits

(Editors Note: George Ellison is on leave this week. But he says that his pawpaw trees have even more fruit on them this year than they did when he wrote this about them last year.) Way Down Yonder in the…
Wednesday, 13 October 2010 20:35

The smells of autumn

Fall is the odiferous time of the year. I don’t possess a very discriminating sense of smell, but certain fragrances arise in the natural world this time of the year that even I can detect. Have you ever been walking…
Wednesday, 20 October 2010 20:34

Region’s kaolin history is nearly forgotten

One of the more interesting stories concerning this region is that of the kaolin mining industry. It began more than 200 years ago in Macon County when Thomas Griffith, a representative of the noted English pottery firm headed by Josiah…
Wednesday, 27 October 2010 20:53

Witch-hazel’s name — A botanical mystery

The unusually dry, warm days this month have resulted in a delayed color season as well as an abundance of fall wildflowers. During recent field trips conducted for the North Carolina Arboretum along the Blue Ridge Parkway and for the…
Wednesday, 22 July 2009 19:04

Wildflowers peaking right now

Interesting wildflowers appear throughout Western North Carolina from late February into early November. Most wildflower identification and observation takes place during the spring. All too often the subsequent seasons are ignored. The three peak periods are from late April into…
Wednesday, 29 July 2009 19:08

A fine flower to start with

One of the best pieces of advice I ever received in regard to learning wildflowers was to “concentrate on one family at a time.” The person advising me didn’t, of course, intend that I should devote my attention exclusively to…
Wednesday, 03 June 2009 18:54

The unique ways of the kingfisher

Belted kingfishers are one of my favorite birds. A pair fishes along the small creek on our property during the breeding season. In winter they move downstream to the Tuckasegee River, although the male will make infrequent appearances from mid-November…
Wednesday, 10 June 2009 19:14

Caught in the spider’s alluring web

Spiders are one of the most interesting — and sometimes disconcerting — critters to observe. Especially fascinating, to me, are the various webs they create to capture prey and provide themselves with protection. Spiders are often confused with insects, which…
Wednesday, 17 June 2009 19:43

Northerners in our southern climes

Elevations above 4,000 feet in the Blue Ridge Province can be thought of as a peninsula of northern terrain extending into the southeastern United States, where typical flora and fauna of northeastern and southeastern North America intermingle. Many plants and…
Thursday, 03 October 2013 01:45

Wolves have special place in regional lore

I’ve never seen a timber wolf, even though they no doubt once roamed — from time to time — across the little valley west of Bryson City where I reside. Elk have been reintroduced in the Smokies. Based upon the…
Wednesday, 24 June 2009 16:33

Mountains of mushrooms

Is this going to be a bumper year for wild mushrooms? Maybe so, if the rainfall we have been experiencing in recent weeks continues to any significant extent into late summer and fall. My wife, Elizabeth, and our youngest daughter,…
Wednesday, 06 May 2009 16:26

A haven of nectar and beauty

The irises my wife, Elizabeth, cultivates in our yard are coming into full bloom as I write this. Their shapes and colors and fragrances are almost too intricate to describe. The name iris, meaning rainbow, was given to the group…
Some of my happiest times here in the Blue Ridge have been those hours spent locating grassy balds, gorges, sinkholes, boulderfields, wind forests, beech gaps, cove hardwoods, bogs, and the like. I have discovered that the things you truly find…
Wednesday, 13 May 2009 16:30

The story of the fiddlehead

Fiddleheads are emerging from the leaf litter in our forests. Almost everyone, even those not especially interested in plants, has heard of fiddleheads and knows that they’re supposedly edible. Whenever I teach a plant identification workshop for the Smoky Mountain…
Wednesday, 20 May 2009 17:17

Yaupon and the ‘Black Drink’

For some years now — when walking the woodlands around ancient Cherokee settlements — I have been on the lookout for an evergreen holly species that’s not native to Western North Carolina or the southern mountains. I haven’t yet encountered…
Wednesday, 27 May 2009 17:40

The alluring calls of song birds

In the opaque early-morning light outside our bedroom windows, the birds that reside in our woods — or do we reside in their woods? — commence warming up for the day with tentative calls and whistles. The male cardinal seems…
Thursday, 04 November 2010 01:10

One fine mountain poet

Allow me to introduce you to a friend of mine. His name is Han Shan. He is among the finest mountain poets of any era in any language. He may have lived during the T’ang Dynasty (circa 600-900 AD). “Han…
Wednesday, 01 April 2009 15:11

Bluebirds continue to fascinate

My oh my what a wonderful day Plenty of sunshine in my way Zip-a-dee-doo-dah Zip-a-dee-eh Mr Bluebird’s on my shoulder It’s the truth, it’s actual Everything is satisfactual Through the years, I’ve written more than a few columns about eastern…
Wednesday, 08 April 2009 15:42

Old stone walls redux

(Author’s Note: While running random Internet searches, I occasionally am confronted from out of the blue, as it were, with something I wrote years ago that I’d absolutely forgotten I’d written and failed to store in my computer files. Most…
Wednesday, 15 April 2009 16:14

Dogwoods in the mountains

In the Smokies region, there are three species of dogwood. Everyone is familiar with flowering dogwood (Cornus florida), which is starting to flower this week, but the others are less well known. Alternate-leaved or pogada dogwood (C. alternifolia) is the…
Wednesday, 22 April 2009 16:38

Ancient chemical warfare

I’m sometimes asked if the prehistoric Cherokees used any sort of poisons on their blowgun darts. These darts (slivers of black locust, hickory, or white oak) were from 10- to 20-inches long with thistledown tied at one end to form…
Wednesday, 29 April 2009 16:54

Wild mountain boars

Numerous non-native plants have been introduced into the southern mountains during the last century or so. Many of these are now classified by wildlife biologists as “exotic pests.” Few would argue that kudzu does not fall into that category. And…
Wednesday, 10 November 2010 21:14

Where the buffalo roam

Buffalo Branch ... Buffalo Creek ... Buffalo Cove ... all are common place names that indicate the prior residence of that mammal here in Western North Carolina. Whenever I conduct workshops on the region’s natural history or Cherokee lore, the…
Wednesday, 04 March 2009 15:46

Popeyed pleasures

Many people who spend some time walking the woodland stream banks and other wet areas here in the Smokies region have had the memorable experience of flushing a woodcock — that secretive, rotund, popeyed, little bird with an exceedingly long…
Wednesday, 11 March 2009 19:45

The curious habits of birds

The curious lifestyles and distinctive habits one can observe in the bird world are continually fascinating. Some things you can count on to occur with regularity. Each year, in late spring or early summer, blue jays will gather into communal…
Wednesday, 18 March 2009 20:15

Uplifted by the flight of birds

Lately, I’ve been writing a lot about birds. I guess I have them on my mind, in part, because the spring migration season is underway. I heard my first Louisiana waterthrush (a warbler) of the year this past Sunday morning.…
Wednesday, 25 March 2009 20:40

Making friends with an injured crow

According to the current Ornithological Union listing, the appropriate non-scientific name for a crow is “common crow.” How apt! Like most commonly observed objects, crows, for the most part, flit across our field of vision unheeded. Cawing, they flap away…
Wednesday, 04 February 2009 16:23

Owls remain mysterious, alluring

Of late, I have been hearing the owls sounding off on the slopes and ridge lines behind our home. Some folks think of owls as evil omens, but I like to listen to them. They are, for me, the nocturnal…
Wednesday, 11 February 2009 17:39

Forsythia heralds the spring season

The recent warm spell has the birds singing and various plants budding. One of these is forsythia. My wife, Elizabeth, recently placed several clippings in a vase in our home, near a window, where the light and warmth will force…
Wednesday, 18 February 2009 19:01

Reservoir rendezvous

Joe Wright was born and raised in the high Nantahalas in the northwest corner of Macon County. He was 90-some-years-old when I interviewed him back in the early 1990s or thereabouts and made the notes upon which this account, in…
Wednesday, 25 February 2009 19:42

Cowbirds a favorite to despise

Some folks can’t stand house sparrows (a native of north Africa and Eurasia) while others detest starlings (a native of Europe). Both species were introduced into this country in the 19th century. While I don’t especially admire house sparrows and…
Wednesday, 17 November 2010 20:43

A father’s influence

Horace Kephart (1862-1931) was the author of Our Southern Highlanders, Camp Cookery, Sporting Firearms, Camping and Woodcraft, Smoky Mountain Magic, and other books. He also played a well-documented role in the founding of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Most…
Wednesday, 24 November 2010 19:51

A story about darkness, light and the red bird

Ho down down … Ho down dee Red bird dancin in custody Way down in New Orleans. Ho down down … Ho down dee A jailer stoned & barred the door: “Red bird soon be dark & dead.” Ho down…
Wednesday, 01 December 2010 21:30

The creek outside my window

I write this from my “office” (a spare room) at home. Looking out the window, I can see the creek that passes through our place. As a general rule, I spend more time watching the creek flow by my window…
Wednesday, 08 December 2010 21:09

Images etched in memory for a lifetime

I am fascinated by those images from the natural world that remain with us for a lifetime — almost as vivid as when first exposed — while most simply fade away. I have sometimes tried to capture in prose or…
Wednesday, 15 December 2010 21:34

Noticing the little things of winter

Editor’s note: George Ellison, like many in the mountains, was snowed in and unable to get an internet connection. This column was first published in The Smoky Mountain News in 2005 I’m sure you’ve noticed it’s the little things that,…
Wednesday, 22 December 2010 20:54

Big fish of the Smokies

Each of us inhabits several landscapes. On the one hand, there is our everyday exterior topographic landscape. We call it reality. On the other there is our interior landscape … the world of imagination, dreams and nightmares. Whether we are…
Wednesday, 29 December 2010 20:45

A family full of marriage, but not quite bliss

Editor’s note: This George Ellison column was first published in December 2004. Most everyone agrees that marriage is a noble institution. But even in the best of situations it can be, at times, a demanding proposition. Some folks seem to…
Wednesday, 05 January 2011 21:02

A special place in the heart of arborists

Winter is the season for thinking about pines. For the ancient Orientals, pines signified dignity and vitality, especially in old age. In art, a wand tipped with a pine cone was often carried by the god or his supplicants. At…
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