by Jules G. Evens. University of California Press, 2008, 384 pages, $24.95.
This is a wonderful book for getting an overview of the Point Reyes peninsula, whether you’re a first time or repeat visitor to the area. I loved learning why it has been called an “island in time” and how the area has changed since the Spanish first came to it. The chapter on the geology of the peninsula uses the wonderful image of a whale to describe how the underlying rocks have moved up and down on a vast scale as the land west of the San Andreas Fault has moved up the Pacific coast. The chapter on the weather is worth the whole book. It clarifies many of the weather patterns and causal factors not only at Point Reyes, but on the entire Pacific Coast. And the chapter on plant communities gives vivid and clear examples of how the geology and weather have led to different clusters of plants and animals in different areas.
The sections on flora and fauna do not provide information about every plant and animal to be found. You can’t look for something by color or shape. But the information helps you understand why something lives or grows where it does. For those who are interested, there are great observation checklists in the back. There are lists of rare and endangered species. And there is a fabulous reference list for those who want to learn more.
You can look up specific plants or animals of you already know their name or find what lives in a particular area. But Even’s strength is that he provides a great read, like a novel, a rare and wonderful thing in a field guide.