John McIntyre, whom James Wolcott calls "the Dave Brubeck of the art and craft of copy editing," writes on language, editing, journalism, and other manifestations of human frailty. Comments welcome. Identifying his errors relieves him of the burden of omniscience. Write to jemcintyre@gmail.com, befriend at Facebook, or follow at Twitter: @johnemcintyre. Back 2009-2012 at the original site, http://weblogs.baltimoresun.com/news/mcintyre/blog/ and now at www.baltimoresun.com/news/language-blog/.

Monday, March 26, 2012

A tree grows in Hamilton

In 2008, at our request, the city planted a redbud tree in the tree lawn in front of our house. It was a little taller than I was.

The winter of 2009, you will recall, was a hard one, and in the spring only a few branches budded, most of them appearing to be dead. The spring and summer of 2009 were also a time when my career appeared to be dead, or at least moribund. Having been laid off by The Sun, I was fruitlessly applying for other jobs and scratching around for freelance work.

At loose ends on many days, I spent time trying to revive the faltering redbud, watering it nearly every day and fertilizing it at intervals. It produced some leaves, and I was encouraged to hope for it.

The following summer, when The Sun hired me back as night content production manager, the tree budded more vigorously and put out new branches. I pruned most of the dead ones and kept up the watering and fertilizing.

Today, as it blossoms again, I can say that my career, such as it is, continues, and during my hiatus one substantial thing that I accomplished was to keep a tree alive.