Pittsburgh: A New Home A New Career–Grow Where U R Transplanted

This blog started with posts that focused on my gardening hobby and somehow transitioned into my passion for public radio and sustainability. Now after weeks without posting, I have good news along with a sweet little story that combines my love of flowers and public radio.

I left the Philadelphia area a month and a half ago and moved to Pittsburgh with the thought that I needed to build a career in a city. And I decided Pittsburgh was the place because I not only know Pittsburgh better than I know Philly, but I also really love the people. One of my friends from Pitt often refers to Pittsburgh as “a big hug.” And despite the frigid temperatures this week, that’s exactly what I feel like I’ve gotten in the last few days. 

I started Thursday by being an hour and a half late for my current job in the Del Monte consumer affairs department, because of a commuter train problem. And I ended the work day having to trudge through falling snow to the train station.  My luck was so crappy that I bought a lottery ticket with a premonition that all the bad mojo was a build up for something really positive. And by 8:30pm I learned that while I hadn’t won the lottery, I am now the new Assistant Producer of Essential Public Media/WESA FM‘s new midday magazine show, Essential Pittsburgh.  I called my Mom with the news, danced in my kitchen for a bit, went to bed and gave my notice at Del Monte the next day.

Since my funds are still pretty limited from the move, I decided to treat myself simply, by buying a fresh bunch of flowers from a garden shop I’ve been meaning to visit since I came to town. The Botanical Emporium in Mt. Lebanon is run by an energetic woman who knows and seems to love her business so much that she’s actually visited all of the countries and flower farms where she buys her stock. So when I pointed at some dark red branches and mentioned how I love Protea when it’s flowering, she promptly corrected me and said Protea are just the mature flowers and the red branches I pointed at are Leucadendron.

My new Leucadendron and Eucalyptus in my new living room

We then spiraled into a conversation about her having lived in South Africa where the plant is native and then the fact that I wanted to celebrate my new job with fresh flowers. After wrapping up a gorgeous bunch of Eucalyptus and Alstromeria, she started to ring me up, then stopped and said, “since you took a leap of faith moving here, pick out any other flower you want for free.”

She knew I had my eye on that strange yet beautiful Protea, which is $5 a bloom, and said, “Since you came in here and actually know Protea is native to South Africa you should definitely have one. And I’ll throw in some Leucadendron.”

The detail in this plant is just amazing, and it goes perfectly with the reds and pinks in my room. I decided to put my good luck flowers by my favorite photo with my Mom. Pass a little positivity along to the world of real estate.

The gesture meant so much to me I almost hugged her. Here I am, a total stranger, buying a $12 bunch of flowers to fit my tight budget. And she treated me like one of her best customers. We wound up standing in that shop talking about the city of Pittsburgh for almost 45 minutes, from the friendly people like her to all of the ways it constantly changes.

This new job will focus on the people and issues that are important to Pittsburgh. What better way for a curious talkative person like me to grow in a new place than to dig in, like the happy gardener that I am? I’ll be able to make a living while getting to know a place I love. I moved to Pittsburgh on a leap of faith and I’m gradually finding my net.

Alstromeria and eucalyptus in the kitchen.


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