The evening I was told that our townhouse rental was not going to work out, I moodily got back on Craigslist and skimmed the latest rental posts. There weren’t that many listings for situations that might work for us, and of those listings, there was only one I bothered to call about. When I called I got an answering machine and (based on previous experiences) I figured I had, at best, a 50% chance of getting a call back. Rentals move fast here.
By the following day I had put the inquiry out of my mind, and so I was surprised when a call from an unrecognized number came up on my cell phone. “Hi, this is a response to your call about the rental on ___ Street,” said the unknown person.
When I had mentally caught up with the conversation, we went through the basics. Dogs okay? Yes. Still available? Yes. There was somebody else who might be interested in the place, but the renters were looking for the right tenant. Could I tell the caller a little more about myself? Finishing grad school. Moved to Idaho. Natural resources — yes, both my spouse and myself. What disciplines? Botany. Watershed management. Yes, good references. Yes, looking for a bigger place; starting a family.
As it turned out, the woman renting this townhouse (that’s right — townhouse, not apartment) had also worked in a natural resources field for part of her career. We talked about that for a few minutes: the seasonal jobs, career choices. I suppose every career field must have its club of insiders, but all I can say is that when you’ve done field work and you meet other people who’ve done field work, there’s a little moment of recognition. Even if the only words you exchange are “fire effects monitoring” and “fisheries and riparian work,” you’re acknowledging something bigger than the long days and weeks and the bunkhouse living.
Hey! you’re saying. I like the outdoors; I like to walk around and look at rocks and plants and animals and stuff.
Hey! the other person is saying. I do too!
Less obvious in the interchange but also fairly likely to exist is a shared enjoyment of “roughing it,” translated to: I am perfectly okay with the idea of a week spent eating out of a single cooking pot, not washing my hair, and doing all my bathroom activities behind a bush!
Other person: Schweet! Me TOO!
Of course there’s only so much you really can know about somebody from a brief conversation, but that’s okay. I’m happy living with my assumptions. And I’m always excited to meet other outdoorsy people.
Back to the rental hunting:
Two days after our first townhouse rental fell through, J and I went to see this other townhouse. It is, in a word, nice. Actually it is nicer than the first townhouse we had been making arrangements to move into. The rooms are bigger, the place looks newer, and it has its own private yard. The yard is patchy and full of weeds, but Jane (the woman who showed us around) said that as long as we put some work into making it look better, we can do whatever we want to with the space.
(Above) My unrealistic gardening daydreams. Please be assured that my expectations for the yard this year are much more subdued and in-tune with reality.
Six days after our first townhouse rental fell through, J and I signed the lease on a different townhouse. We are officially moving, and I am officially stunned that everything has worked out so amazingly well. Also, I am officially not participating in a community garden this year. Instead, I’ll be working in my own garden.