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.
Delicious, closely observed place vignettes of southeastern Arizona. . . . Her delineations of the land are sharp as crystal, and fragile and melancholy, too.
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