As we sat in the cockpit of our little sailboat two years ago, watching the Sea of Cortez ebb and flow beneath us, and seeing our grand adventure nearing its inevitable end, Katie asked me: “If you could have any job in the world, what would it be?” In truth, we asked ourselves this question almost every day of that sailing journey, for that was really at the heart of the decision to take the trip in the first place. It was a chance to start over, to regain control of the trajectory of our lives: to begin the controlled jibe.
I thought long and hard and searched for an answer. Naturalist and boatbuilder were high on the list, but growing plants is what I kept coming back to. So for the past two years, I’ve slowly worked toward finding that perfect nursery job. I got to be a naturalist for a summer in Alaska, and I got the incredible opportunity to work on boats for the last seven months (thank you again Craig). And just when I was thinking that I would work on boats for the rest of my days, grow out my beard and become the grizzled old shipwright (thank you for what you taught me this year Matt) that I admire so, a nursery job appeared.
Katie bumped into a friend of a friend, and told her that even though the posting was already closed, I should call them up and chat. A few interviews later, and I am now the propagation and production manager at Cloud Mountain Farm Center, one of the most innovative and respected nurseries in the region. Education, varietal testing and experimentation with new growing techniques help provide a model for other up and coming farms and farmers. We have vineyards and orchards that I help tend. I am learning how to stick twigs in the dirt and end up with a greenhouse full of plants. And most importantly, I am learning the art of grafting trees.
So career wise, I have a feeling that this could be the final jibe, the place where I retire from. I can still be a naturalist on my own time in the back 40, and perhaps sooner than later I’ll start building a boat of my own. I’ll plant an oak for the keel, a fir for the planks, and a spruce for the mast. I know where to get them cheap.
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