Smoky Mountain Poets

This tree in Cades Cove, GSMNP inspired Kristi to put pen to paper. Photo credit - Kristi Parsons

This tree in Cades Cove, GSMNP inspired Kristi to put pen to paper. Photo credit – Kristi Parsons

Smoky Mountain Poets. These mountains have inspired generations to express themselves through songs, deeds and words. Remarkable words that transcend the passage of time and speak to each new generation. So much so that a Smoky Mountain poet laureate was commissioned in the early 20th century.

Ella V. Costner was honored to be the first and only Smoky Mountain poet laureate. Costner (1894-1982) was born in Cosby and grew up on Crying Creek near the Gabes Mountain Trailhead. After her stint as an Army nurse in Pearl Harbor and Guam, she returned to Newport, Tennessee and published several books of poems and essays. Ella’s final resting place can be found in the hills she loved on a short walk up the Snake Den Ridge trail in Cosby.

Ella V. Costner poet laureate of the Smoky Mountains.

Ella V. Costner, poet laureate of the Smoky Mountains.

“There are moments in the lives of some men, so fraught with emotion and beauty, as to make one weep no matter how often one reads or thinks of them.” Ella V. Costner, from the Lamp in the Cabin.

Others have followed in Ella’s footsteps and we are thrilled to share their love of the Smoky Mountain with you here.


I want to spend my summer days with you.

Lying, just you and I, underneath a true blue sky.
Listening to the hum of the June bugs as we talk about all the things we love.
We can watch the dreamy clouds drift on by as we wait on the shooting stars that will – one by one, erase even our deepest scars. 
We’ll smile as the young fawns pass by and at the bear cubs as they play – silent to the thought our tomorrows and our yesterdays.

I want to spend my summer days with you.

In the hills that I call home, wrapped up in the Smokies haze, among the beautiful places where I roam and play.

Yes, I want to spend my summer days with you, doing what lovers do and dreaming of a love that’s true….

Because it won’t be long til autumn steals the days away and my blue sky slowly fades to gray.

Written by Kristi Parsons


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Smoky Mountain Goldenrod

Smoky Mountain Goldenrod adds to color to late summer and fall!

Smoky Mountain Goldenrod adds to color to late summer and fall!

Smoky Mountain Goldenrod. Of all the wildflowers that grace the fields in late summer and fall, probably none is more misunderstood than goldenrod.  Thought to be the cause of fall hay fever and other sinus problems, goldenrod instead is both an autumn or late summer beauty as well as a healer.  Indeed, its Latin name, solidago, can be translated as “making whole.”

A member of the aster family and native to North America, goldenrods occur in over 100 species and have been introduced to South America, Europe, and Asia.  Domesticated varieties have also been developed for flower gardens.

All varieties grow from large woody rhizomes that form clumps of flowers, typically 3 feet tall with a spread of 1.5 feet.  Goldenrod prefers an airy, sunny location in a meadow or field with good drainage. Its moisture needs are fairly modest, allowing it to tolerate both drought and poor soils, even East Tennessee clay.  Moreover, goldenrod is free from most plant diseases, but can develop rust or powdery mildew in rainy weather, especially if the plants do not have good air circulation. Consequently, spacing is an important consideration when planting goldenrod.

Insect pests are no problem for goldenrod.  Rather goldenrod attracts a wide variety of butterflies, bees, and wasps and so makes an excellent addition to a pollinator garden as well as providing its rich dusky to bright yellow blooms at a time when other flowers are fading.  Some types of flies do deposit their eggs in goldenrod stems, which then develop bulbous galls in which the larvae feed.  However, these galls do not harm the plant.

Native Americans and settlers made a tea from goldenrod leaves to treat sore throats, toothaches, colds, flu, inflammation, and kidney-urinary tract infections.

But what about the accusations that goldenrod causes sinus problems.  This arises from the fact that ragweed produces its pollen at the same time that goldenrod blooms.  The air-borne ragweed pollen can stick to the tacky goldenrod leaves that may even be some distance away, creating the impression that goldenrod is culprit.  So it’s a good idea to keep ragweed far away from goldenrod.  Otherwise, goldenrod makes a nearly trouble-free addition to our flower and pollinator gardens. is honored to have Carl Parsons as a contributing writer. Carl is Deputy Editor for Storyteller Magazine, a member of the Writers’ Guild of Sevier County, TN, and a Tennessee Master Gardener.

Great Smoky Mountains Fantastic Fall Foliage Forecasted

Fantastic Smoky Mountain Fall Foliage Forecast!

Fantastic Smoky Mountain Fall Foliage Forecast!

Great Smoky Mountains Fantastic Fall Foliage Forecasted. Leaf peeping is always a Smoky Mountain special event! A fantastic display of fall foliage is predicted for The Great Smoky Mountains and surrounding areas.

Experts expect Mother Nature to dance a fiery flamenco across the Smokies, flinging her cloak of many colors and blazing a trail through Tennessee and North Carolina. All this is due, in part, to the unusually warm and wet conditions experienced in the mountains from spring through mid-summer and closer to normal rainfall in late July, according to a quote by Beverly Collis, Western Carolina University’s autumnal analyzer and fall color calculator. Collins, a professor of biology at WCU, utilizes her knowledge of forest ecology with weather trends to calculate the potential for a color-filled leaf-peeping season in the Western portion of North Carolina where color can appear, in some species, such as sumac and sourwood, in early September. According to Collins the long-term forecast that extends through October calls for average precipitation and warmer –than normal temperatures, “and, if the forecast holds, we should have our typical bright colors this year,” Collins was quoted as saying.  However, color change is linked to cooler nights which result in less chlorophyll (green color) production in leaves, and Collins noted that if the forecast holds and those cooler nights are delayed, peak color might hold off until the last weekend of October in regions that are about 2,000 feet in elevations. And, Collins warned that big storms or a hurricane, which might send strong winds and heavy rains inland, could strip the leaves off the trees ahead of schedule.

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Mountains To Sea Trail Celebrates 42nd Anniversary

The mountains so sea trail (MST) begins at the iconic Clingmans Dome observation tower.

The mountains so sea trail (MST) begins at the iconic Clingmans Dome observation tower.

Mountains To Sea Trail Celebrates 42nd Anniversary. The 42nd anniversary of North Carolina’s the Mountains-to-Sea Trail celebrates with some 33 planned group hikes.

Friends of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail invite interested parties, of all skill levels, to participate in one of 33 group hikes in 27 trail towns across the North Carolina beginning Friday, Sept. 6 through Sunday, Sept. 8. Hikers (or walkers) can choose any of one -12 mile hikes which traverse all types of terrain (rated from easy to strenuous) scheduled from Cherokee to Nags Head. Hikers can opt for the closest trail or venture to another area of North Carolina and explore.

Chuck Millsaps, president of the Great Outdoor Provision Co., the exclusive sponsor of the MST Birthday Hike, was quoted as saying, “We are thrilled to see so many communities hosting hikes across the state as we celebrate the Mountains-to-Sea Trail. Its fun to send folks out on the trail then hear their hike stories the next time they stop by.” Great Outdoor Provision Co. is a North Carolina-based outdoor equipment and clothing retailer, with nine stores across the area.

 According to Wikipedia, this long-distance hiking and backpacking trail, established in 1977, will connect the Great Smoky Mountains to the Outer Banks by weaving a thread of interconnected trails. A little more than half the trail is complete in multiple segments across the state. Sometime, in the near future, you can step on MST at Clingman’s Dome and many, many miles later dip your weary toes into the waters of North Carolina’s Outer Banks.

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Great Smoky Mountains Music Of The Mountains Event

Music of the Mountains is an awesome Smoky Mountain event!

Music of the Mountains is an awesome Smoky Mountain event! Photo credit – banjo holler

Great Smoky Mountains Music Of The Mountains Event will be held Saturday, September 7, 2019 from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. This fun, free family event will feature traditional mountain music, sing alongs, storytelling and clogging.

HeySmokies’ friends Boogertown Gap will be performing in a must see performance. Boogertown will also be demonstrating how to play not so everyday instruments of Appalachia like wash tubs, spoons and wash boards. Plan on trying your had at making music with them at the “instrument petting zoo” between 11:30 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. Children will have a chance to show their creativity making their very own instruments.

We are excited to host some of the best and most knowledgeable musicians, dancers, and storytellers for a day of fun and hands-on education,” said Stephanie Sutton, Supervisory Park Ranger.

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