Studying natural history in California under the direction of Ken Norris and Ray Collett, at the University of California, Santa Cruz, I had fallen in love with the idiosyncratic, endemic-rich landscapes atop serpentine bedrock. Upon moving to Vermont in 1980, I studied the Vermont Geological Map, and found to my surprise that a subtle archipelago of serpentine and related ultramafic rock studded the Green Mountain spine from end-to-end, and set out to see if these little islands also showed signs of biogeographic richness.
Indeed they did! But by the time I had hunted up all the serpentine spots on that geologic map, I’d become as curious about the quarries and archaeological sites often associated with these areas. Then I found myself drawn to the changing nature of scientific explanations about these places. This was a real discovery for me, to see how quickly various geological, biogeographical, and archaeological theories became outdated and abandoned.