Author George Ellison and illustrated by Elizabeth Ellison
By Gina Malone
For lovers of nature, whether those who hike with a determined purpose or those who wander wherever footfall takes them, perhaps second only to experiencing the outdoors is reading about it in the words of fellow nature lovers.
George Ellison’s Literary Excursions in the Southern Highlands is a book of 50 essays that, he says, cover “everything from snails to buzzards” in an informational style that should appeal to a wide range of readers. “They speak to conservation,” Ellison says, “in that I’m always urging readers to get out the door and slow down so that they can see and appreciate the natural world more fully—in which instance, an inclination toward conservation will be prompted by genuine appreciation.”
Ellison and his wife, Elizabeth, whose illustrations grace the book, live in a cove west of Bryson City nearly surrounded by the Great Smoky Mountains Natural Park. “The creek that flows through our place has entered into many of my poems, columns and essays,” he says, “as well as into Elizabeth’s artwork.” All of his books are collaborations. “I generally let her know what I’m writing about and she does it as she sees fit. If there’s something specific like the markings on a bird or the leaf arrangement on a plant that I’m writing about, I’ll give her a heads-up so that the text and artwork mesh.”
Literary Excursions in the Southern Highlands, essays/illustrations, 2016, softcover, $24.99, by George Ellison and published by Arcadia Publishing and The History Press, Mount Pleasant, South Carolina.