I had a wonderful time at the Tucson Festival of Books. I sold about 24 books and about 75 notecards. But the main joy was talking with friends new and old. It was especially fun showing people mock-ups of three new books I am working on:
1. Glorious Grasses (with Jim Verrier)
2. Small Wonders (tiny, nearly invisible flowers)
3. An illustrated guide to the Santa Catalina Mountains – using my paintings to illustrate various parts of the range.
Here is one of the paintings for the book. It is of Windy Point, 14 miles up the Hitchcock Highway, with a great view to the South and West, an ideal place to watch the sunset.
Recently I had the pleasure of doing a plant walk with Bruce Homer Smith, who has developed an excellent website where people can easily look up wildflowers growing in California. Here is a link to his site, which has more than ninety-five thousand pictures, about 4248 of them taken by me (marked with an FR). Since it has been such a dry winter, we did not see many plants in bloom, but had a lot to look at and enjoy in Molino Basin.
Here is his web site:
I was working on my new book – “An Illustrated Guide to the Santa Catalina Mountains” and wanted to know just how old these mountains are. Different books gave different dates. My favorite article was: “A Guide to the Geology of the Santa Catalina Mountains, Arizona”
by John v. Bezy of the Arizona Geological Survey, which taught me that this is not at all a simple question. The oldest rocks (called Pinal Schist) in the Catalina mountains date back 1.65 billion years.
The process that started to shape the Catalina mountains as we know them went through several phases. The main upheaval that forms the core of the mountain range goes back about 35 million years in the Cenozoic age when the super continent known as Pangaea was further separating and the Atlantic ocean was being formed.
There was more development 26 million years ago, and again 15 million years ago.
This means that this wonderful mountain range has been in the process of construction for twenty million years or more. And it is still changing. I seem to have read somewhere that it is still growing about an inch every hundred years, but have not been able to confirm that. In any case, it is a work in progress.
And as the mountain range itself evolves over the centuries and millennia, the plants that call it home have also been changing. For example saguaros arrived after the last ice-age which ended about 11,700 years ago. We have the privilege of coming to know some of the plants that flourish here now. Who knows what the future holds?
Look for me at the Festival of Books at the University of Arizona Campus –
March 10, 11 booth 254.
This painting is for the cover of my new book, and shows a profile of the mountains viewed from the South. The range is about 20 miles wide and a mile and a half high.