Mountain Lake(less)

Mountain Lake (on Salt Pond Mountain) in Giles County, Virginia, was familiar territory once upon a time. I took five-week-long studies at the UVa Biological Station there in the summers of 1977 and 1978. I have been back a few times since, doing author tables maybe twice. The last time I was there, I think […]

The Fading Faint Colors of Fall

It has not been a spectacular year for fall colors in our part of the Southern Appalachians. The prolonged late-summer drought seems likely to have contributed to the subdued palette, but the alchemy of autumn is a many-splendored mystery with regard to the exact combination of temperature and moisture and sun and wind and plant […]

When The Bottom Falls Out of the Food Web

Most people might think it’s a good thing–that there are demonstrably and significantly fewer insects than there were three decades ago. But consider that these morels are critical links between the primary producers (grasses and other greenery that turns sun into food) and the chain of upper-tier eaters that depend on insect biomass to keep […]

Saturday Shorts

►I often thought, when looking up at a crop of walnuts, that it would hurt mightily to be hit by one of those things. I was right. A glancing blow and no permanent damage done, but this time of year, wear protective clothing in walnut country. You were warned. ►And there are a gazillion nuts […]

Urban Legend Anonymous Patron of the Arts

Not surprisingly, I came to discover that there is no one by that name with a PO box in that small Blue Ridge mountain town whose name and zipcode appeared on the envelope. The namesake of the purported sender was never seen again, nor the cool million he left the plane with, though some reports […]