Putting down roots

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Last June, when dear sweet Bubby ascended to kitty heaven, my neighbor thoughtfully gifted me with a small rose bush, not realizing my profound ignorance of flower care. For reasons I cannot begin to grasp, I find it far easier to preserve the lives of mammals than plants. (Well, except for Bubby — but it was his time to go. He didn’t die because of my neglect or ineptitude.)

Dubious though I was about the plant’s long-term prospects, I dug a hole near my front steps and planted the rose bush. In the intervening eleven months, I have cared for the rose to the very best of my ability, i.e., sometimes I remember to water it.

To my astonishment, the plant appears to be in robust health. It is blooming all over. There are so many yellow blooms on this bush right now that it nearly looks tacky.

I am surprised and pleased at my rose’s will to live, but I do not expect to join the ranks of flower gardeners. If I am going to take the time to plant, tend, and possibly accidentally kill plants en masse, I want to be able to eat the produce of those plants that survive the slaughter.


This year’s garden features a few favorites from last year: the mint has returned with a vengeance, the rosemary is growing at a respectable pace, and the cilantro is back and once again threatening to overtake the whole plot. Which is fine with me. When you cook as much Indian food as I do, you need cilantro in abundance.

Last year’s strawberries came back, too. Grand. If anyone wants some hardy but COMPLETELY NONFRUITING, WASTE-OF-SPACE strawberry plants, drop me a line.rites from last year: the mint has returned with a vengeance, the rosemary is growing at a respectable pace, and the cilantro is back and once again threatening to overtake the whole plot. Which is fine with me. When you cook as much Indian food as I do, you need cilantro in abundance.

I’ve also got three types of pepper plants, two types of tomato plants, a ton of onions, and one little pumpkin. I planted quite a few pumpkin seeds, but only one sprout has sprung. That’s okay. It is clearly the most sincere pumpkin.

Where I will be available to guide that pumpkin to its pumpkin-buttery destiny is anyone’s guess. Here’s a brief recap of my options:

1. The Peace Corps: no longer on the table, since I would have had to wait until January at the soonest to join up.

2. The Foreign Service: also no longer on the table. Earlier this week they informed me that I didn’t advance to the next round in the application process. Disappointing, but not surprising. I can try again next year, if I like.

3. AmeriCorps: specifically, working with ecological conservation projects here in western North Carolina. By June 4th at the latest I’ll know if any of the places I applied to will want to interview me.

  • Advantages: staying put, keeping the cats, keeping the pumpkin, gaining health insurance, doing meaningful work.
  • Disadvantage: for a commitment of eleven months of fulltime work, I would get twelve thousand dollars, before taxes.

4. Wisconsin, ho! My week-long “vacation” to visit Grandma has been postponed till June, but the idea here is that I would move in with Grandma and act as her caregiver.

  • Advantages: being near extended family; free room and board; better library system
  • Disadvantages: being near extended family; further career sabotage; saying farewell to my kitties

5. NEW! Alaska, ho! A few weeks back, I applied for a public library job in Anchorage. Yesterday they called to arrange for an initial screening interview by phone. In hindsight, I wish I hadn’t sounded so surprised when they called. Oops.

  • Advantages: a real job! with benefits! in a place that gets adequate snow!
  • Disadvantages: being 4,000 miles away from home would be trying at times; I doubt I’d be able to bring Goblin and Gremlin with me.

6. Getting a decent job in Asheville: I suppose there’s some universe where this could happen.

Now don’t anyone get too excited about the Anchorage prospect. It’s a refreshing break from the norm to have an interview, even if it’s just a cautious feeling-things-out phone interview, but having a nice chat by phone is a far cry from getting a job offer.

Wish me luck.


3 responses »

  1. Jess,
    The Anchorage job offer sounds as though some force greater than me is at least at work confirming your job worthiness! As you say however, an interview doth not a hire make. Perhaps a season in the 50th State awaits with adventure as a visit away from the pumpkin patch.Planting and tending living things in soil at any venue is indeed a positive energy producing endeavor though so let’s give a cheer for Yellow Roses and Strawberries thought they be sans berry. In the hope that tonight’s full moon shines brightly in Asheville, I remain
    your Tidewater compatriot

  2. Been to Anchorage many times. It has a small mountain-town feel with some quirkyness thrown in for good measure. I think you’d like it, and the cats would be just fine. You’d need to get your car there some way anyhow.

    Good luck and positive vibes on the interview.

  3. Good luck. I had a good friend in grad school (from NC) who spent some years living in Alaska and loved it. I’d say, if they offer, take it. I bet you could get your kitties there too.


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