Every year as summer approaches and the days begin to heat up, I marvel at the beautiful orange explosion that protrudes from an unkempt patch of daylilies and Queen Anne’s lace that was once (BC – before children) a more kempt flowerbed.
The folks in the mountains of Western North Carolina and eastern Tennessee share more than a common boundary, they share a deep appreciation for the wild, sometimes rugged, but always beautiful landscape they call home.
Conscientious, detailed vacation planning; anticipating the “what ifs” and having contingency plans; route planning and hashing out all the logistics can surely make that extended vacation a lot smoother and more relaxing. But sometimes that out of the blue, spur-of-the-moment retreat can be just what the doctor ordered.
As we turn to bask in the full glow of the summer sun, mornings begin to heat up quickly. As they heat, they become quieter.
Last week, we set the stage for the 29th annual Great Smoky Mountains Birding Expedition (GSMBE). The group starts at 9 a.m. at George and Elizabeth Ellison’s office/studio in downtown Bryson City. I know, birders out there are rolling their eyes — to start a count at 9 a.m. is like missing half the day, but there are caveats.
What could be more fun than a weekend of fellowship and great birding? Maybe setting a new record for total number of species recorded during the annual Great Smoky Mountains Birding Expedition?
What falls freely from the sky, rumbles, swooshes, rolls, trickles across the planet; seeps into the earth beneath our feet yet is more valuable than “Texas T,” that foul smelling icky crude that companies spend billions to produce, only to sell for mega-billions?
We’ve had a good run in the watershed. The Town of Waynesville has sponsored spring and fall guided hikes in its 8,000-plus acre watershed since 2007. The hikes provide a great way for residents and other interested parties to see this wonderful resource that has been placed in a conservation easement to insure the town has an ample supply of high-quality drinking water for generations to come.
The blue-headed vireo sang to me of spring sometime around the first week of April. Blue-headeds are generally the last “non-resident” songbird we hear in the fall (sometimes into November) and the first we hear in the spring — probably due to the fact that many overwinter in the warmer climes of the Southeast.
Earth Day 2013 is Monday, April 22. The first official “Earth Day” occurred in 1970 and environmentalists celebrated. Environmental lawyer Chuck Dayton, who splits his time between Waynesville and the “Land of a Thousand Lakes,” pretty much summed up where we are at Earth Day, when he wrote about the 40th anniversary: