A large buckeye tree overhangs and supports the swinging gate leading into and out of our pasture. Since we are constantly getting in and out of our truck to open and shut the gate, we have a chance to observe this tree in all seasons. It always has something interesting going on.

“Hay fever: An acute allergic condition of the mucous membranes of the upper respiratory tract and the eyes, characterized by a running nose and sneezing, conjunctivitis, and headaches, caused by abnormal sensitivity to certain airborne plants ....”

So, you find yourself coming down with the above symptoms? You’ve figured out that it’s hay fever you’re suffering from and have treated yourself accordingly with the help of a physician or non-prescription drugs.

Two well known sites in Swain County were named for Col. Thaddeus Dillard Bryson, a significant figure in Western North Carolina during the second half of the nineteenth century.         

One is, of course, Bryson City. And the other is the Bryson Place, now Backcountry Campsite (No. 57) in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park situated six miles north of the gated trailhead in the Deep Creek Campground. Here then are some notes regarding Col. Bryson as well as his namesakes.

ellisonLungwort is the leaf-like lichen common on tree trunks several feet or more above ground level. It resembles liverwort but grows under drier conditions. The upper surface is leathery and grayish when dry but bright green when moist, and it is pitted so as to be remindful of the texture of a lung. The undersides are often pubescent.

mtnvoices“Seeds of this common weed do indeed contain an hallucinogenic component, but, as is so often the case, the same chemical is also highly toxic, and the line between ‘a trip’ and ‘the final trip’ is a fine one which varies from one individual to another.”

— Jim Horton, The Summer Times (1979)

back then“How many thousand-thousand of untold white ash trees are the respected companions of our doorways, kindliest trees in the clearing beyond the cabin? No one can say. But this is a tree whose grave and lofty character makes it a lifelong friend.

back thenCertain place names in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park have become iconic: Gregory Bald, Thunderhead, Chimney Tops, Jump-off, Mt. Le Conte, Alum Cave, Charlies Bunion, High Rocks, Bryson Place, Cataloochee, Huggins Hell, and more. 

mtnvoicesLike poisonous serpents, some plants developed toxic properties in order to protect themselves against predators. Besides insects, the major plant predators are herbivores: bison, deer, rabbits, mice, caterpillars, aphids and any other critters — including humans — that devour plant matter above or below ground.

georgeThis past weekend marked the occasion of the 32nd annual Great Smokies Birding Expedition. Fred Alsop, the ornithologist at East Tennessee State University, Rick Pyeritz, the now-retired physician at UNCA, and I initiated the event in the fall of 1984. Since 1985, it has been held the first or second weekend in May.

ellison footbridgeForty years ago this coming July 5, my wife, Elizabeth, and I and our three children moved into a small cove just west of Bryson City. The kids are grown up now and doing their own thing in Sylva, Asheville and Colorado Springs, Colorado.

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