I’m going to install a little window in my mind so you can see it works. At least how it is working at this moment. It may not work in quite the same way at any future time. Here’s my promise: other than having decided on the overall idea, I have not planned the specifics of what I’m about to write. Instead, I will record my thought processes (if there are any) as they occur, to see if something interesting, useful or otherwise worthwhile happens. And if not, you’ll get to see that, too. Ready?
Here’s the context. It happened earlier this month. I was in Phoenix for school visits, and I had a free afternoon so I went to the Desert Botanical Garden. Great place! I was looking at an exhibit on saguaro cacti, the Sonoran Desert’s quintessential plant. A mental image of this charismatic cactus with upcurving arms may be many people's first association with the word desert, although saguaros grow only in this relatively small desert of southern Arizona, northwestern Mexico and a sliver of southesastern California. I knew these are very cool plants from a very hot place, but of course I was eager to know more.
So I read the interpretive signs and I was bowled over… with numbers. That is to say, numerical facts about saguaros. Being a numbers guy and a math author, the hairs on the back of my neck stuck up like cactus thorns. Here are a few of those numbers:
— saguraros grow incredibly slowly: about ½ inch in the first year and one foot in the first 15 years. Then they start cruising: in 40 or 50 years, they may reach ten feet and it is not until they are 50-100 years old that they begin to sprout arm buds. Some live up to 300. Their maximum height is 40-60 feet. When a cactus poacher (oh yes, they do exist) digs up a six-foot saguaro to plant in front of his house, a replacement in the wild will take about 30 years reach the size of the poached plant (which will probably die).
— one mature saguaro can store 1,500 gallons of water (that’s 6 tons) in its spongy pulp — enough to last several months. It can lose 2/3 of its stored water and survive.
There were many other numbers but that’s enough for now.
So here’s what happened. I thought to myself, “Hey, how about a book about saguaros and their numbers?” Saguro Numbers or Saguaros by the Numbers or Number the Saguaros or something like that. Or maybe not like that. But let’s not get hung up on the title. The thought did not evade me that I could pull it off, sequel possibilities would be countless: Elephants by the Numbers, Great White Sharks, Dinosaurs ... even Oceans, Earth, The Solar System, etc.
So what about it? Having an idea for a book (or a series) is the easy part. Figuring out a way to execute the idea is ano Display Comments Add a Comment