MCKINLEYVILLE -- When Patti Rose had her midlife crisis, her husband, Doug, was listening. Really listening.
Three year later, Doug and Patti Rose own Rosepond Aquatics, a supplier of pond plants to Humboldt County nurseries and the latest addition to the Saturday farmers' market in Arcata and the Thursday Henderson Center market in Eureka.
At 55, Patti had left a 20-year career in Los Angeles writing procedures for the Space Shuttle's main engines, and was pursuing a master's degree in geographic information systems at Humboldt State University.
"One day I was complaining about my master's project when some piece of wisdom fell out of my mouth, and Doug heard it," Patti said. For the first time, Doug heard her clearly define her frustration that, at her age, she didn't want to struggle and compete with young people to land a job in a new career. As Patti recounts, Doug's ears perked up and he shouted, "Finally!"
Patti acquired her first aquarium at age 8. She dug her first pond at 18 when she left home and rented a cottage. Ponds persisted wherever she lived, whether dug out, or created in makeshift plastic kiddie pools.
"When you actually stop and look inside a pool of water, there's a lot of stuff going on in there. The cycles of the pond go along with the cycles of the seasons. It's ceaseless fascination for me," she said.
That youthful excitement is shared with kids in the neighborhood, who frequently visit the Roses' backyard. A 4-foot-square pond exists for the kids.
"We built it and told them it was theirs to explore. There are frogs, tadpoles, whirligig beetles, worms, dragonfly nymphs, water lilies and grasses to explore," Patti said.
Doug notes that the kids' pond helps keep their other eight growing tanks from being disturbed. "We told the kids that pond was just for them. They're so fascinated and curious. They're nuts about it," he said.
Doug is also a part-time consultant on independent living and accessible technology for LightHouse of the North Coast and the state Department of Rehabilitation. Patti is a part-time administrative assistant at LightHouse, which serves visually impaired residents in Humboldt and Del Norte County.
As for the future, the Roses foresee steady growth, both of their business and their passion.