“A friend of mine is what you might call a manic collector of desert wildflowers, rushing out after seasonal rains to tally the first signs of everything from anemones to zinnias. She reminds me of those possessed birdwatchers who’ll jump into a car or onto an airplane and travel across the globe to catch a glimpse of some rare species to add another number to their life list — except that, living in the desert outside Tucson, she doesn’t need to travel far in a good year to find countless wildflower varieties to add to her roster…”

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