Writer and naturalist George Ellison dies at 81
George Ellison, a writer and naturalist whose home and inspiration was on Lands Creek in Bryson City, died Sunday, Feb. 19, at the age of 81.
George Robert Ellison II — Thoreau in a jockstrap
Editor’s note: George Ellison, a renowned naturalist and writer who lived in Bryson City, passed away on Sunday, Feb. 19. Below is a tribute to Ellison by Don Hendershot. Ellison wrote hundreds of columns for The Smoky Mountain News, which can be read by searching our archives at smokymountainnews.com.
Renowned artists conserve their life’s inspiration
The last private property that Lands Creek crosses before entering the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Tuckasegee River is now conserved, thanks to Swain County residents George and Elizabeth Ellison.
Snakes, really, are beautiful creatures
Snakes are among the world’s most beautiful, fascinating, and ominous creatures. We are at once attracted to and repelled by them.
The comeback of the turkey a real success
The come back of the wild turkey in the southern mountains in recent years is one of the notable success stories in wildlife restoration. Thirty or so years ago, the sighting of a flock of wild turkeys was a rarity. Thanks to the combined efforts of the National Wild Turkey Federation and its local chapters, working in conjunction with federal and state wildlife agencies, such sightings — while always memorable — have become rather commonplace.
Charlies Bunion one of best views in Smokies
Are you by chance looking for a high-elevation day-hike that embodies quite a bit of the region’s human history? If so, try the moderate to steep portion of the Appalachian Trail that leads from the Newfound Gap parking area in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park to Charlies Bunion.
Jimson weed has a long and lethal history
If you have a recently cleared area on your property or in your neighborhood, there's an excellent chance that jimson weed is blooming there right now. The good news is that it’s one of more interesting species in one of the most remarkable plant families. The bad news is that it’s one of the most toxic and potentially lethal plants in the flora of the Smokies region.
Scarlet tanagers spar in song
This seems to be a scarlet tanager kind of year. I’ve been seeing and hearing them at my house, along the Blue Ridge Parkway, and in the Great Smokies. No bird in our region is more striking. Jet black wings on a trim red almost luminescent body, the male is impossible to overlook. And it’s easy to recognize by both song and call.
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 see them … but we don’t really pay attention. We rarely think about them … we never ask ourselves: “What are these birds up to?”
Box turtles can live 120 years
Five turtle species reside in Western North Carolina: snapping, musk, and painted turtles are primarily found in streams, lakes, and ponds. The elusive and rare bog turtle is found in the habitat for which it’s named. The eastern box turtle will enter water during dry weather, but it’s largely terrestrial. For that reason, they are the species with which we have the most contact.