A Portfolio of Maps from the California Field Atlas

A sampling portfolio of maps, with incomplete keys.

California, A Field Atlas


My song for the California of wildflowers, of salmon, of deserts, of glaciers, of oaks and sweet pine, of lonely elk and tired vultures, of crowded tidepools and the ghost of bears. A song in echo for our dear irritable, excited, unreasonable species that needs the passionate experience of it all. You are written across this land. The world used the ocean to wet the brush in order to pen your name, a million years before your birth.

1. “Obi, but what is California?” Gary Snyder asks Obi Kaufmann after being introduced by the founder of Heyday Books, Malcolm Margolin, and being given a quick intro to the scope of the Field Atlas project. “Gary, for me, right now it is certainly a thousand heavens and a thousand hells.” San Francisco Book Club. May, 2016.

Ecological Map of California

2. “How does this book work best, Lindsie? It is not a travel guide. It is not a field guide. It is not an ecological treatise. These maps cover the entire state, but they don’t really work to get you from point A to point B.” Obi Kaufmann councils Heyday Books’ Director of Publishing, Lindsie Bear, over coffee about the Field Atlas project. “That is exactly the point, Obi. This perspective is a wholly new spatial reimagining of California. Always remember as you compile these maps: put beauty first.” Berkeley. February, 2016.

001 09.13

 I find there is a battery inside myself that needs regular refueling of wilderness and solitude to maintain the Me-of-this-world. I adore cities and all they offer, but give me those mountains! Let them climb over me as much I climb over them and I will be an easier man on my return. I need the wide open, diverse forests of the Sierra Nevada, empty with light and shining in granite. I find the distance between mountain sites I love to be mapped in song… subtle lines that shine melodies, often many weeks in length. Bruce Chatwin’s Songlines taught me of the Dreamtime mapping technologies of ancient Australian cultures. I am a bumbling fool at it, but it remains a lifelong preoccupation in reverie.

Categories: CALIFORNIA