Thursday, May 6, 2010

Zahner Lecture Series

Normally, I don't post this sort of thing but I've had such wonderful evenings at the Zahner lectures the past couple of years, I'll share this news release:

Small Purple Fringed Orchid, Platanthera psycodes - inspiration for one Robert Frost poem

Zahner Conservation Lecture Series begins May 7 with ‘Spirits of the Air’

The Highlands Biological Station continues its tradition of conservation themed lectures on Friday, May 7. The series is named for the late Dr. Robert Zahner and his wife Glenda, of Highlands, in honor of their significant contributions to the conservation of land on the Highlands Plateau. The Series serves to educate and inspire the public through a series of talks by premier scientists, conservationists, artists, and writers.

This year’s Series will kick off with a talk by Dr. Shepard Krech, Professor of Anthropology and the Director of the Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology at Brown University. Dr Krech is the author of 11 acclaimed books. He will discuss his latest work “Spirits of the Air: Birds and American Indians in the South.” Using examples from art, decoration, politics and culture Krech helps us understand the complex relationship early Native Americans of the south had with the natural world.

On Thursday, May 13, the Biological Station’s own Dr. Jim Costa, back from his year-long, worldwide book tour, will discuss his most recent book, “The Annotated Origin,” an annotated edition of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species, published by Harvard University Press. Dr. Costa’s passion for the subject and his years of teaching experience bring Darwin’s more elusive concepts into a relevant context for modern readers. Don’t miss these exciting lectures and keep your Thursday evenings free this summer for the remaining 12 Zahner Lectures.

Lectures will be held at 7 p.m. each Thursday evening from May 13 through Aug. 5 at the Highlands Nature Center, 930 Horse Cove Road in Highlands. For a full schedule of lectures, as well as information on other programs and resources available at the Highlands Biological Station, visit or call 828-526-2602 .

Here are dispatches from some of the lectures I've attended:

Ethnobotanist Gary Paul Nabhan shared his "Terroirist Manifesto" August 2008.

Nabhan appeared in Highlands shortly after the publication of Renewing America's Food Traditions. It is a gorgeous book, reviewed here:

Where else would you find a recipe for Passenger Pigeon Pot Pie? (No kidding.)

Last summer, Cherokee scholars Heidi Altman and Tom Belt spoke on “Cherokee Ways of Naming Places:"

Earlier the day of that lecture, I had been doing some research on Herbert's Spring...

...and so my jaw dropped when Altman and Belt discussed their own search for the mythical (?) spring.

Also last summer, a real Renaissance man was one of the featured speakers. Peter White is a UNC biologist, and his little book, Wildflowers of the Smokies, is one of my favorites.

More on White's Great-Smokies-All-Taxa-Biodiversity-Inventory-research into the elusive twinflower at:

However, this botanist and guitar picker was in Highlands to speak on natural history in the poetry of Robert Frost:

One of the things I've liked about the Zahner lectures I've attended is the attentive and appreciative audience. During the Q&A for White's talk it was fun to hear folks share their memories of attending Robert Frost readings many, many years ago. Opportunities like that don't come around very often...

...and they're well worth the trip up the mountain.


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