Trees Do Their Part, but Humans Fail

Article excerpt

Byline: Terry Dickson

After years of watching the live oak leaves turn brown in the spring and cover the yard, Vonette and I decided we wanted to see the fall reds, oranges and yellows in the mountains. We decided to take a two-day trip the week before last into western North Carolina around Highlands and Cashiers. The hills weren't exactly ablaze with color, but it sure was beautiful to someone who lives on the coast.

We spent most of Friday just getting up to Clayton, where we drove through a great little valley called Warwoman Dell. At the eastern end of the road, we turned north to Highlands, where we stopped on Whiteside Mountain to watch the setting sun tinge the mountains toward Brevard and Asheville red.

Saturday, we had a big old Southern breakfast of biscuits, gravy, bacon and eggs. The only thing that would have made it better was some salt-cured country ham. At least it wasn't any of your 18-grain bagels with distilled water-based butter substitute and flavor-free jelly.

Then we spent two hours hiking the 2-mile loop trail around the top of Whiteside Mountain. The views from the south side are amazing. Whiteside's granite rock faces disappeared behind stands of yellow poplars and red maples. The sky was deep blue and Lake Jocassee shined like a mirror in the distance. At times, the only sounds were a few birds, little creatures rustling the leaves on the ground, the wind and one annoying airplane.

There were other annoyances. There was a time you could pack in an apple or a pear, sit on a rock, eat it and not worry so much about the leftovers. Modern technology has made it possible to litter with nothing but a single piece of fruit in your pocket. As we were standing near the summit of Whiteside, a couple of tiny dots looked back at me from the granite. One was a tiny purple-and-white circle of plastic that said "California plum." Someone had peeled off the aggravating little label to keep from swallowing it. …