The text and paintings on The Trowbridge Chronicles are taken from the illustrated journal of Violet Trowbridge, a shrew that once lived in a village deep in the Olympic Rain Forest. Each new post will represent a portion of Mrs. Trowbridge’s journal.

Sunday, April 23, 2006


Because the word "robot" doesn't appear anywhere in the Trowbridge Chronicles, I thought I would seize the opportunity, and share a most amazing story with you...

It all started last summer. I was on safari in Morocco, exploring a cave in the cliffs above the Wad Dra River, when I stumbled upon something most amazing. There, buried under skull fragments and pottery shards was what appeared to be an ancient manuscript! I brushed the dust from it and carefully unrolled it. Yes! It was a manuscript! My light revealed beautifully scribed text, and even illustrations! The title read: The Legend of Shrew Khan. The art style was distinctly humorous. I didn't know they had cartoonists in ancient times...did you?

I rolled the manuscript into a sheet of burlap, placed it in the boot of my Land Rover, then drove into Marakech to have carbon dated. To my utter amazement, it dated back to the Third Century!

Fast forward to three weeks ago. My phone rings unusually early one morning. I try not to sound's the famous producer, Jerry Bruckheimer. My mind is racing as he expains that he wants to pay me a ton of money to option my Shrew Khan manuscript for a movie! Hollywood has caught wind of my discovery. Perhaps Bruckheimer read about it in USA Today, or in one of the supermarket rags.

He calls me again yesterday to inform me that none other than TOM CRUISE has signed on to play the title role of Shrew Khan. Katie Holmes will play Shrew Kahn's mistress. I was delighted, of course, but I thought they were terrible casting choices. I was thinking more along the lines of Jack Black or Paulie Shore to play Shrew Kahn, and maybe Bette Midler or Whoopie Goldberg to play the mistress. Whatever...I'm just thrilled that Shrew Kahn is going to make it to the big screen.

I got special permission from Mr. Bruckheimer to let you have a sneak peek at a page from the manuscript. He will only allow ONE page to be revealed to the public. I chose YOU, the Illustration Friday audience, to be the first to see it. This is the special page that I selected, because it's a good close-up depiction of Kahn and his robot steed. So look for The Legend of Shrew Kahn, coming soon to a multiplex near you!

Monday, April 17, 2006


The Pipers Bell Flower is the rarest of the rare. Endemic to the Olympic Mountains, only a few dozen specimens are known to exist. This flower, undoubtedly, is one of the rarest wild flowers on the planet. Only a few people know where to find it. I am privileged to be counted among them. Mrs. Trowbridge saw it and sketched it on only one occasion, but even she couldn't fully appreciate its rarity.
This is very likely the actual rock where Mrs. T encountered the Albino Pipers Bell Flower so many years ago, for there is only one other known population of this precious wild flower. She wrote that she found it "on a distant mountain in the North Forest". I photographed the flowers pictured above near the summit of Lillian Ridge in the north Olympics. There were less than two dozen Bell Flowers growing on this boulder. The photos that I took of this flower are among my most prized photographs.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006


Also called the Mosquito Hawk, or the Lord of June, dragonflies are among the fastest fliers in the insect kingdom. At a zippy 35 miles per hour, they can give a race horse a real run for its money. When we were kids, we called dragonflies "snake doctors".

The Green Darner Dragonfly (Anax junius), commonly found in the Olympic Mountains, can be seen darting about the pond from April to September. Male Darners patrol their territory about eight feet up and 8 feet from the pond's edge. The Green Darner is one of 38 species of dragonflies found in the U.S.

When "dragon flight" came to Huckleberry Hollow, a whole new era of rain forest aviation was born. Suddenly, a weekend trip to the high meadows was within easy reach of the small creatures. Transporting goods several miles distance was now entirely possible. Dragonfly Express offices sprang up in villages throughout the rain forest.

What was to become of the simple life and the old ways of the forest? This concerned Mrs. Trowbridge more than a little. She mentioned it many times in her journal. Yet she also often spoke with fondness of her family's first dragonfly trip to the high meadows.

The rocky outcroppings that you see in Mrs. T's painting are where the rarest wild flowers are found. I have seen the Pipers Bell Flower, and the Flett Violet--both rare Olympic endemics--clinging to life in the crevices of pillow lava outcroppings like these on numerous treks into the high country.

I took these shots in Royal Basin, in the Olympic Mountains. It is so beautiful up here that it is said to be "suitable for royalty"...hence the name. The small creatures loved to visit idyllic locales like this during the warm summer months. You may find rare wild flowers growing among these rocks.

Would you like to see what Huckleberry Hollow really looks like? Would you like to see for yourself the rare wild flowers that grow only here? There really is such a place. I know...I have been there. It's situated on Wild Rose Creek in the Quinault Rain Forest. Would you like to see vistas like what you see in the above photos? You can, and I will guide you to all of these spectacular places. The Olympic Rain Forest is so special and unique--one of the few temperate rain forests on earth--that it is designated a World Heritage Site. That puts it in company with the Serengeti Plain, the Great Barrier Reef, and the Taj Mahal.

If I get enough response, I will put together a tour package lasting about one week. I will guide you to the most spectacular places in the Olympic National Park. The tour will culminate with a night in one of the world's great lodges, Lake Quinault Lodge. Go to, look at the pictures, and you're sure to sign on for the trip. (You may recall, Lake Quinault is the lake that Mrs. Trowbridge's family had to cross on their summer journey to the Pacific Ocean.)

The last day, after a wonderful breakfast at Lake Quinault Lodge, we will depart for a day hike deep into the rain forest. Our destination will be the place where the Trowbridge Chronicles were born---Huckleberry Hollow, on Wild Rose Creek. Let me know if you would like more information. I'm planning on going to Huckleberry Hollow this summer anyway...I figured I might as well take you along with me. P.S. Bring your sketchpad!

Sunday, April 02, 2006


The Cutleaf Syntheris was among Mrs. Trowbridge's favorite flowers. Though she had great respect and admiration for it, she didn't realize just how special this high meadow early bloomer really is. In addition to its unusually hardy nature, the Cutleaf Syntheris (Syntheris pinnatifida var. lanugosa) is one of eight "Olympic endemics", rare wildflowers found here and nowhere else on earth.

Imagine being in darkness all winter and well into the spring. Much of Mrs. T's journal work was done by lantern light. They used lupine seed oil for their lanterns because lupines are plentiful, and easy to find. It was the oil of choice in their cooking too. They preferred it over other plant seed oils because it didn't go rancid so quickly.
Here is my photograph of one of the world's rarest wild flowers. Don't look for it on Google Image...this flower is so rare and special, it's hard to find ANY photo evidence of it, not even in the wild flower books. We first encountered the Cutleaf Syntheris on the summit of Blue Mountain, in the north Olympic Mountains. It was Memorial Day weekend...I caught it at the end of its blooming season, long before the other wildflowers had even begun to bloom.