Synopses & Reviews
Jan Bowers lives in the right place. A lover of nature and the outdoors, an avid hiker and backpacker, she is surrounded by mountain ridges, peaks, and canyons of almost every description. In this book, she invites us to come along and find out why some of these places are special, why some of them stay in her mind long after she has returned to the workaday world of the city. Readers have come to expect the best from this writer, termed "a rare talent. . . uncommonly good at the craft" by Wilderness magazine. Her new book is filled with creeks and meadows, tiny ferns and towering oaks, bears and butterflies and Red-tailed Hawks. We see gray clouds clogging the sky in a canyon, "wildly, almost tastelessly romantic, as full of clouds as a tea kettle with steam," and we startle a female grouse and her half-dozen fuzzy chicks "exploding from underfoot like billiard balls scattered with a cue stick." Faced with the prospect of moving to another place, Bowers finds herself thinking about the familiar world in new and unfamiliar ways. Through her eyes, too, we see how an interest in nature and the outdoors developed from early childhood and how simple curiosity has led her to the most surprising discoveries. At odd and unexpected moments, her work also seems to bring new insights into herself and her life as a writer, a wife, and a mother. These pages promise a new adventure at every turn in the trail. For sheer terror, there's a climb up the face of Baboquivari, for laughs, there's the great bagworm caper, and for some quiet truths, there are themes of gain and loss, of connection and reconcilliation. Crunching through winter snow or sweating under summer sun, we know we're in the hands of an experienced guide. And we know we couldn't ask for a better companion.
"By mixing memoir and botany, Bowers has transcended dry nature writing. . . . Bowers adroitly translates her science into a moving prose that will assist desert rat and city dweller alike in coming to a greater understanding of how it's possible to cherish this inhospitable land." Publishers Weekly"Delicious, closely observed place vignettes of southeastern Arizona. . . . Her delineations of the land are sharp as crystal, and fragile and melancholy, too." Kirkus Reviews"Superb essays of discovery and self-discovery. . . . Her brief chapters are brilliant miniatures, marked by both a zen-like concentration on the immediate, and a gentle, not forced, opening up of her inquiry as she moves from the natural world to the world of the perceiving mind." Southwestern American Literature
Includes bibliographical references (p. -158).
About the Author
Janice Emily Bowers is a botanist with the U.S. Geological Survey in Tucson.
Table of Contents
Remembering mountains -- The gate swings wide : Tumamoc Hill, Tucson Mountains -- Written on rock : Signal Hill, Tucson Mountains -- A tango with bears : Ramsey Canyon, Huachuca Mountains -- Too cold for comfort but not for joy : Phone Line Trail, Santa Catalina Mountains -- The brome among the poppies : Blackett Ridge, Santa Catalina Mountains --Unblinkered eyes : Sabino Canyon, Santa Catalina Mountains -- Living without walls : Sunnyside Canyon, Huachuca Mountains -- Encumbered : Scotia Canyon, Huachuca Mountains -- Still hunting : Hospital Flat, Pinaleäno Mountains -- A broken mountaintop : Mount Graham, Pinaleäno Mountains -- From botanist to bagworm lady : Rucker Canyon, Chiricahua Mountains --High summer in heaven : Ash Creek, Pinaleäno Mountains -- Looking into clear water : Box Canyon, Santa Rita Mountains -- Gifts given and received : Oracle Ridge, Santa Catalina Mountains -- Walking through memory : Lefthand Canyon, Pinaleäno Mountains -- Writing the future : Miller Peak, Huachuca Mountains -- Fear falls away : Baboquivari Peak, Baboquivari Mountains --Water music : Bear Canyon, Huachuca Mountains.