Jan writes extensively about the desert Southwest,
its unique characters, creatures and vegetation.
Her freelance work appears in numerous
regional publications. 

"Martha Summerhayes' Culinary Adventure"

Persimmon Hill Magazine, a publication of the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, Winter 2004
Martha Summerhayes’ Culinary Adventures” tantalizes the taste buds with instructions on how to pickle a tongue, and the necessity of removing the toenails before boiling pigs’ feet.  Martha traveled the army posts of Arizona from 1874 to 1886 following her military husband across the desert southwest.  Her family recently donated two of Martha's recipe books  to the Arizona Historical Society Southern Division. The cookbooks provide a historical menu of the meals Martha cooked as she made her way from one military post to another. She learned how to prepare calf tongue with olives, marrow dumplings, and grilled beef bones. And while venison jelly doesn’t sound too appetizing, it was really a sumptuous spread prepared with wild grapes and vinegar.  This article is currently available in the Persimmon Hill Magazine, Winter 2004/2005 edition.  

"Larcena Pennington Page Survives Capture by Apaches"

Chronicle of the Old West, Volume 2, Number 4, March 2002
Bloodied and scarred, her disheveled hair matted with mud and scant clothing on her emaciated body, Larcena Pennington Page, on her hands and knees, crawled out of the Santa Rita Mountains today, exactly two weeks after her March 16, 1860 abduction by five Tonto Apaches.  

"Ode to Packrats"

Arizona Garden Magazine, February/March 2002
The other day I was admiring the desert vista around my Tucson home, watching hummingbirds flit through the backyard, mother and baby cottontail stopping by for a quick snack, a comma-topped quail and desert squirrel sparring for space atop my fence and a furry brown pack rat scurrying across the yard.  

"Rock Around the Yard"

Arizona Garden Magazine, June/July 2002
If you want to spend your summers lolling around the swimming pool instead of mowing grass and pulling weeds, put in a rock yard. Rock adds natural beauty, requires far less care than grass and reduces your water bill enough to afford filling that pool. 

"Watching the Grass Grow at the Ranch"

The Desert Leaf, Vol. 16, No. 9, October 2002
The National Audubon Society Appleton-Whittell Research Ranch is not a place upon which one accidentally stumbles. I meandered through the wine country of Elgin and maneuvered down dirt roads that forked and curved enough to confuse the most seasoned trailblazer until I drove through the gate of the 8,000-acre Ranch, one of the most diverse grassland areas in the world.  

"Oracle State Park Historic Ranch Opens to the Public"

The Desert Leaf, Volume 15, Number 10, November 2001
Just 40 miles north of downtown Tucson, unconquered trails wind around picturesque vistas within the boundaries of Arizona’s newest State park. Oracle State Park: Center for Environmental Education, over 15 years in development, opened to the public on October 1st.  

"Hostess to the West"

Arizona Highways Magazine, October 2001
As the train from Illinois rolled into Wickenburg, Arizona on a steamy hot August day in 1897, a young black couple disembarked onto the hard-packed dirt beside the railroad station.  Imposingly tall, with an aura of “don’t mess with me” blazing from her charcoal eyes, twenty-eight year old Elizabeth Hudson Smith brushed a strand of kinky black hair from her face, grabbed the liquor bottle her husband Bill had tucked in his pants, and flung it into the dry Hassayampa riverbed.  A heat-swirling dustdevil followed them as they headed toward the Baxter Hotel, one of the few places a body could get a bed for the night and a bite to eat.  

"The Ancient Gift of Gourds"

The Desert Leaf, Vol. 15, No. 1, January 2001
My pale green thumb twisted the tangled gourd vines around the rabbit fence trying to keep their tentacles from choking the photinia plants to which they seemed so attached.  Small children and slow moving animals should keep their distance from the long stringy appendages that grasp onto any wall, fence, or plant within reach.  These funny-looking squash had appeared in my garden unannounced and I wondered from whence they came. 

"Growing Ancient Gourds Produces Today's Art"

Arizona Garden Magazine, December/January 2001
Gourds are considered one of the oldest known plants on earth.  In the Southwest, Native Americans grew and used gourds centuries before pottery became the pots and pans of choice.  Ladles, canteens, tortilla warmers, masks and musical instruments were constructed from these curiously-shaped vegetables.  

"Along the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail"

Tucson Guide, Winter 2000
Follow the footsteps of ancient priests along one of the most historic trails across Arizona. Designated as a Millennium Trail, a route telling part of America's history, a section of the Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail rambles 4 1/2 miles from the old Tumacácori mission to the presidio at Tubac through a veritable forest of cottonwood and mesquite trees.  

"Tumacácori National Historic Park"

Arizona Highways Internet Virtual Visit Website,
Published November 1999 (No longer available on Website)

After a quick shower that barely dampens the desert floor, streaks of rainwater stain the adobe brick of the ancient church that sits alone among weather-bent mesquite trees and statuesque cactus.  The scent of rosemary fills the courtyard of Mission San Cayetano de Tumacácori, the oldest established mission in Arizona.  I feel I have embarked on a trek back to a time when life was simpler but not necessarily easier.  A short southerly drive from Tucson has brought me to Tumacácori National Historic Park.  I purchase a guidebook at the mission’s visitor center for $1.00 and view a short video depicting the history of Tumacácori.  

"Hall of Flame"

Arizona Highways Magazine, November 1999
The young boy’s eyes widen with delight as he rushes up one aisle and down another, attempting to absorb every engine, every motor, every piece of equipment in the Hall of Flame Museum of Firefighting, the world’s largest collection of fire-fighting memorabilia.  With his mother in hot pursuit, the towhead drinks in these wondrous machines as he roams the massive 50,000-square-foot collection in Phoenix’s Papago Park.  Red, green, brown, white, meticulously decorated fire trucks dance before his eyes.  He’s dazzled.  And that’s just what George F. Getz, Jr. envisioned when he founded the museum more than two decades ago.  

"Fiery Flowers of the Desert"

Arizona Garden Magazine
“Very pretty” does not begin to describe the beauty abounding in the fiery Red Bird of Paradise that defies Arizona’s summer sun and blooms profusely throughout the hottest of days. But that is exactly what the name means. The Red Bird of Paradise (caesalpinia pulcherrima) is one of the hardiest blossoms to grace our desert landscape.