The Laurel Magazine

Laurel Magazine is a monthly magazine guiding you where to shop, play, dine, and stay in Highlands NC and Cashiers NC.

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  • Laurel Contributor

Leaf Through Your library

by Luke Osteen

Consult with the Cashiers Library before you set out on your Grand Autumn Tour.

Now that we’ve arrived in this most glorious month on the calendar, it’s time to survey all of the possibilities afforded by the season.

That’s when the surprisingly deep resources of Albert Carlton-Cashiers Community Library come into play.

Naturally, the standout attraction for locals and visitors alike is the astonishing foliage display everywhere you look. But there’s so much more to experience, and Albert Carlton-Cashiers Community Library can point the way.

Starting first with those leaves, check out the “Audubon Society Field Guide to Trees (Eastern Region).” The beauty of this authoritative book is that it features full color plates of the leaves themselves, making identification so much easier than relying upon photos of the entire tree. It also has a durable, flexible binding, so it’s perfect to throw into a backpack or on the front seat of your car.

I also like “Fall Color and Woodland Harvest,” again because of those wonderful color photographs.

For fun, and for a not-so-practical guidebook, consult “Wicked Plants: The Weed That Killed Lincoln’s Mother and Other Botanical Atrocities.” This’ll remind you why your Mom and every US Forest Service employee has told you not to pick wildflowers. It turns out that plants mean business.

When you’re taking that hike, you’re bound to encounter some critters along the way. “Audubon’s Field Guide to North American Mammals” has wonderful color photos, just like its “Eastern Trees” cousin. Once the leaves start falling, it’s easier to spot our shy neighbors, like the Southern Flying Squirrel. If you spot one of these cuties, you’re in the one percent. Bonus points if you catch one in flight.

And, while you’re out in the woods, you may encounter a Black Bear, getting ready for its long winter’s nap. You’ll find that “Black Bear Country” is a good primer about these fascinating creatures. (Fun Fact: As part of their pre-hibernation checklist, the bears are consuming pine cones to clear out their digestive tracts. It’s no wonder that they start to get cranky around this time).

Perhaps you just want to get in your car and drive around the area, taking in the sights. That’s when you can fully appreciate Nancy Turner’s “The Summer Times,” a guidebook specifically for Cashiers, Highlands, Glenville and Toxaway. She’s accumulated heaps of insider info and historical ephemera that really give context and flavor to the entire Plateau.

And finally, don’t forget what’s probably the library’s greatest resource when you’re about to head out – the library’s employees. Serenity, Megan, and Jessica will tell you all about the things you should see and the things you can safely miss, all served up with a smile and a generous sense of good humor.