“You know, most of us see a rainbow, we say, ‘wow’ and then we move on.We don’t try to, like, live in the rainbow.” -Mora Sullivan, Drowning Cactus
Gordon is a wilderness addict trapped in suburbia, determined to find a way off the track everyone expects him to stay on: from high school straight to college then on to an office job. He refuses to spend his life shackled to a keyboard, so, instead, he drops out of school and attempts to find a way to work in the outdoors.
His plans don’t quite work out, though. He stumbles into a gig stealing rare cactus and soon finds himself on foot in the Sonoran Desert, on the run.
The girl he’s fallen for isn’t doing much better. She worked hard to create an organization to teach gardening to inner city kids, only to be demoted by her board, replaced by a conniving businessman who wants her students to earn big profits from their produce.
That’s fiction, though. Gordon and Mora are the main characters in my novel, Drowning Cactus. Most of us don’t want to quit college, turn criminal, or attempt to build an entire organization from the ground up. But there are lots of great career paths for outdoors lovers.
Here’s my indispensable Top Ten Jobs for Wilderness Addict list, including some very achievable options, even for the young and unskilled, like Mora and Gordon. Plus some dream jobs, of course!
- Camp counselor. Act like a kid. Tie dye shirts, practice archery, swim and drink bug juice. What’s not to love?
- Landscaper. Can you shovel mulch? Push a mower? The pay is good and you’ll spend your days in the sun.
- Outdoor education leader. This one requires some training but you’ll get the satisfaction of sharing your love of nature with others.
- Preschool teacher or dog walker. Dogs and kids both get taken outdoors at least twice a day. You’ll go with them.
- Geologists/Biologist/Marine Biologist. Why not study a science that requires you to do research in mountains, streams or the ocean?
- Farmer. Free food!
- Fire lookout. Be like Jack Kerouac. Gaze at the trees. Be inspired.
- Park ranger. The hat alone makes this a dream job.
- Professional rock climber/surfer/Everest summiter with endorsements. Okay, this one might be a reach for most of us, but a few people do have these jobs.
- Nature writer. Thoreau did it. So did I. So can you.
When his botched cactus theft is mistaken for an eco-protest, Gordon Burstein is thrust into the national spotlight and expected to speak for the land he loves. He panics and runs, beginning a journey of self-discovery that takes him from spring break in Mexico, across the Sonora, all the way to Thoreau’s Walden Pond.
Press and fans scramble to track him down, but no one is more determined than Mora Sullivan, a disgraced environmentalist who has fallen hard for Gordon. She treks into the desert, determined to find inspiration and love.
Gordon and Mora must survive the wilderness, evade the law, and confront the many lies they’ve told the world and each other—all before they attempt to rescue a truckload of cacti from drowning in a New England swamp.
“With Drowning Cactus, Carrie Russell takes the reader on an exhilarating ride across the American landscape and into a brilliant quagmire of human obsession and desire. This is a dangerous, smart, and stunning debut.” - Laura van den Berg, author of The Isle of Youth
"Carrie Russell knows that serious stuff can be funny--even Saving the Earth." - Heather Lockman, author of The Indian Shirt Story
Carrie Russell, the author of Drowning Cactus, has worked at a number of nonprofit environmental organizations and still practices law when she can’t resist a cause. Carrie studied literature and writing at Columbia and Oxford. She also has a J.D. from Harvard Law School. She is at work on her next novel and otherwise outdoors.
You can follow her on twitter, facebook and her blog.