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Plantlife

Time: Lunchtime, day 3, month 11, turn 22.
Place: Herb Garden, Fort Weyr.
Players: Jantha, Mellayne.
Scene: Jantha meets the daughter of an old friend. They talk plants.




It's a lovely crisp autumn day, not warm but very clear. Just perfect for pottering in the herb garden. That's exactly what Jantha is doing, in her plot at one end of the garden. To be precise, she's snipping dead bits from a pair of bushes, getting them ready for winter. There's a flat basket at her feet to take the debris. She looks happy and relaxed.

Not warm? Try /cold/, at least if you're a Southern girl. Especially if you're a Southern girl recently transplanted, even if it was by choice. For the record, the sweater Mellayne's found might be a touch dusty round the wrists and neckline, but at least its mossy green wool doesn't clash with her hair. She's got her own pair of clippers in one hand, a small trowel in the other, and--ooh, she's not alone. Give her a second; she just walked in. She's aiming for one of the beds nearish Jantha, but she's not actively crowding in on the weyrlingmaster's space. Maybe she's been clued in? "'Scuze me," is what she says on her way past. Nothing to see here, just your ordinary resident on a work day. Never mind that ginger hair.

Jantha looks up from her bush at the sound, but only for a moment, to acknowledge the passer-by. "Afternoon," she says absently, then reaches out again with her clippers - and then stops. Looking up again, she focuses on the young woman. Red hair - check. Gardening tools - check. Vaguely familiar features - check? After a moment's pause, she offers, "I think I ought to know you."

Layne's halfway to the nearest bed of plants, equally distracted--for a second. A second and a half. Then she turns, and - vaguely familiar features check in the other direction. Huh. For a moment she's frowning thoughtfully at the air just over Jantha's shoulder, but then her expression clears. "Beg pardon," she says, and though she might sound a little uncertain, it's only a little. "Think I oughtta know you, too. You're..." The pause is half a beat, if it's that. There's a smile sparking at the end of it, and if her eyes are L'yan's pale blue, her mouth's all Alina's, especially when it moves like that. "Maybe you're from home, ma'am?"

Mellayne stands slightly taller than many other young women, though she's by no means what one would call a towering figure. She's just on the lean side of obviously active, but it's the sand-tinted red curls and near-perpetual tan that are frankly more likely to stand out. Whether or not the tanned shade of her skin is as genetic as her hair isn't clear; the ice blue eyes bracketing her ever-so-slightly lopsided nose certainly are, however. She's got the hands and feet of someone no stranger to hard work, hard play and plenty of shades in between, if one cares to look - the latter aren't remarkable, but the former boast the rough-edged nails and calloused fingers of a handyman or carpenter. Never mind the faded scar at the outward edge of one red-sandy brow - move along.

Jantha raises her eyebrows for a fraction of a second, then smiles. "Would that be a Southern tan that I see, by any chance? I might well be from home, if so. I'm Jantha - I'm the Weyrlingmaster here, when there are any weyrlings, but I'm from Southern Weyr. And you remind me of..." Another considering look, then, "Are you one of Alina's girls?"

Oh, now Layne just can't help it. That smile of hers is getting wider with every word Jantha says, and once a certain name comes into things, she's outright grinning. That's likely confirmation enough; Mellayne's grin is very much her mother's in duplicate, even if it is a touch less manic. "'Tis, ma'am; I've only been here two sevendays and a little, and it hasn't faded yet. Not that I mind. Southern Weyr by way of Igen--aye, I would!" that's about the time the grin appears. "I'm Mellayne, her younger. And I remember you, now I think about it; so you're the one the junior Weyrwoman told me had plants I oughtta keep out of." Layne's still got her hands full of clippers and trowel, so she doesn't offer either one. Yet. "Well met... er, again, weyrlingmaster."

"Splendid!" Jantha pronounces, her smile broadening. "It's good to see another Southerner. I'm afraid you've arrived just in time for the weather to turn foul, though." With a quirk of the lip, she continues ruefully, "In another few sevendays we could be digging our way across the Bowl through the snowdrifts, like my first winter here." That's said with enough of a chuckle to sound like only a semi-serious threat. "So," she enquires brightly, "What brings you to Fort?"

Mellayne shudders. Obviously. Whether it's acting or true reaction is--well, it *looks* genuine enough, anyway. "It really is," is what Layne says at first, and that's plainly about the fellow Southerner bit and not the snow, because it's happy. "I didn't half expect to meet anybody from home up here, and here we are." Pause. "I heard about that, though, the snow. I really don't look forward t'any of that at all." Clink, clunk, go the trowel and clippers onto the edge of that nearby bed of herbs. "I'll be in a half-dozen sweaters by the end of it, I'm right sure." Now she really *does* sound like Lina, just for a moment. Not that she doesn't otherwise, but someone's inherited a few turns of phrase along with her hair, apparently. "Thought I'd try somewhere new, ma'am. I stood at Igen a month ago, and--well, I got curious. Mum about fell off her ledge when I told her where I wanted t'go."

"Really?" Jantha chuckles, and, as she's apparently going to be chatting, bends a little to drop her pruners into the basket. "Well, I suppose it's a long way from Southern. Not being a parent myself, perhaps I have a one-sided view of growing up, but sometimes, I think, there's a lot to be said for being where your family isn't. It seems easier to be your own person. And you stood at /Igen?/ However did that happen? Surely Igen Weyr isn't Searching at Southern?"

"Not Searching there, not properly," is Layne's response. She takes the opportunity to drop to one knee, the better to reach the first obvious weed at the edge of her chosen bed of plants. She doesn't pull it yet, though, and she's still looking jantha-wards. "Greenrider at Southern had a friend at Igen who came to visit, and outta nowhere--well. I was in the right place at the right second, I guess. I think the Igenite was as surprised as I was when her green took a liking t'me." the grin of earlier's faded, but a small smile's still lingering at the corners of her mouth. "As for Mum fallin' off her ledge--not that she did, mind. It's a long story, and Mum's never told me the whole thing. Liandra's in it, though. I figure it's nothing I wanna know, if it's something what she won't tell us girls." And that would be one obvious difference between mother and daughter right there.

"Ah." Jantha nods as if in understanding. "And no doubt under the circumstances, the Weyrleaders agreed as a courtesy to Igen. That would make sense. It's not as if any of us - any of the Weyrs - are going to be needing to go far afield for candidates in the near future, I imagine. It'll be turns between clutches most of the time, from now on." She gives a rueful grin. "Being Weyrlingmaster is no longer a full-time job, I'm afraid: it's a good job I have other things to keep me busy."

"They did." Up comes that first weed in a puff of displaced soil. "And I went, and well. No harm done, anyhow." There's no bitterness or obvious disappointment in Layne's voice, for what it's worth. "Can't say I didn't hope I might Impress there; I've seen how Mum and Da and my aunties are with their dragons. Weren't the end of the world, though." Pause. Up comes a second weed or at least, presumably that's a weed. "'S what Mum says too," she continues. "About keeping busy, that is. She's always in the weyr's records, now. And I'm--" another fractional pause, and a third weed's pulled free. "--up here," Layne finishes amiably.

"So you are," Jantha says mildly. "And what are you doing now you're here? Or is that a silly question, as I find you in the garden, working? But perhaps it's an interest rather than work, as it is for me, albeit a very useful one." She too can apparently work and talk, as she scoops up her basket and moves round to the other side of the bush, so that she can prune while still facing Mellayne.

Silly Mellayne hasn't got a basket of her own. She has, by now, got a small handful of pulled weeds though, and they're ending up in a pile to one side, the better to be cleared up later. "This actually is part of work, for me," Mellayne answers pleasantly. "This, and a few other things besides whenever they need doing. I haven't got the carpentry skills like Liandra does, so I do whatever I can, really." which includes pulling weeds out of an autumn garden. "Y'know I'm still half afraid I'm gonna pull something that's supposed to be here? Things're just different enough." Different from /what/ should be plain, given where they're both from. "I still need to look in the records, see if there's anything has the details about what's different up here. There oughtta be, from what I've heard. I just need to go looking."

Jantha glances sharply at the plants in front of Mellayne, then steps round her bush again and looks down at the area being weeded. "That wouldn't be a good thing: there are quite a few medicinals here and some of them aren't easy to grow. Looking them up is good, but they're easier to identify if you've seen the real thing. What don't you recognise?"

Mellayne winces. Gone is the easy amusement of earlier; Faranth forbid Layne cause *trouble*. "Ooh. I hadn't a clue - sorry, ma'am." Not that she necessarily has anything to be sorry about. Yet. A swift glance down at the patch of greenery in question, and she's pointing one coiling tendril of pink-flowered vine out where it wraps around the lower branch of a fragrant bush. "I figured at least I'd look things up if I couldn't find any--what on Pern's this one?"

Jantha chuckles, and squats by Mellayne. "Oh, you're safe getting rid of that, at least here. It's a grab-creeper - very pretty if you grow it up a trellis, but it strangles other plants. In the spring it grows so fast you can almost see it, if you let it. Once it starts flowering, it slows down, and the flowers continue until autumn, as you can see." She extends a finger to tease loose a frond of the creeper. "See how it curls?"

That wince lingers a half-second longer, though it curls too--not like a creeper at all, wrong sort of person wearing the expression--into something wry at the end. "I hadn't a clue at all. I've never seen a creeper like that sort--" she breaks off, teasing loose her own tendril of the pink-flowered climber; it curls itself around her finger as it coils back into place, or tries to. The end of her sentence is obvious enough. "Rather a shame t'get rid of something looks that nice, but if it kills the important plants..." She hasn't made to snip any of it yet. Give her a second. "Grow it up a trellis sounds alright, though. And I've seen this one at Igen, at least." Her opposite hand finds the leaf of something pale green and fuzzy, brushes it between two fingers. Heyla, sage in the air.

Jantha nods. "Sage. Very useful, especially for women's troubles. And stuffing wherries." She glances over her shoulder. "You don't want to confuse your grab-creeper here with that one." That one would be the one that's growing up a narrow trellis at the back of Jantha's plot. "See, with the red leaves? That's a Giniacreeper. Equally prone to taking over the world, and in spring when the leaves are green it looks quite similar to this one, but that's considered useful in certain digestive complaints, so I'm growing some. Any others?" She looks back to the plot in front of them.

Mellayne eyes that red-leaved creeper a little dubiously, but doesn't ask. "Seems like everywhere y'go, there's some sorta creeper wants to take the place over." That's amused rather than truly grumbling, though it does come out a little lower than the norm, tone-wise. Only a little. "Here's hoping I've got the difference between the one and the other creeper figured out by spring, anyway." That's a shade more amused than the first, and not at Jantha. Layne's creeper-curled finger is eased free, and the other hand abandons the edge of that sage leaf. Blue eyes scan the foliage, pause, squint. "Uh, I'm gonna figure this one *is* a weed, but if I'm wrong, I've about brought up half a basketful of something what's useful already, and I'm char." One ragged-nailed finger points at crimson-tipped thorns. An abundance of crimson-tipped thorns, mingled here and there with tiny, glossy green leaves. Ow? No wonder she doesn't touch this one.

"It's a weed," Jantha confirms, but she's not touching this one. "Stickleblood - from the colour of the thorns, I suppose. They're horrid things, and of no use to man or beast. And the spines tend to stick in you and go septic, so it's best to use gloves when you're grubbing them out."

Mellayne grimaces this time, expressively. That's another facial expression she's got in common with her mother, at least for the most part. "Yucch," is her eloquent pronouncement. "Sounds like the sorta things we used to tread on at home, almost. Only those didn't... bristle like that one. Yucch." A second time, for good measure. "Glad I've only gotten one stuck in my finger so far, and even that's too many." Someone will be making certain a pair of gloves are at hand the next time she goes near a vicious handful of thorns, to be sure. "I... least I'm *fairly* certain about most of the others. I might go look in the records anyhow, but--" the briefest of pauses. Almost not there at all. "If I'm not sure, would you mind if I asked you? I mean, you've been here, and anyhow." Layne's candid enough with her question, but again, the end of the sentence trails away unsaid. You're from home. But she doesn't say that.

"If I'm around, I wouldn't mind at all," Jantha says kindly. "Though I should warn you that if you get me started on plants, I'm sometimes hard to stop. They're my hobby - though I do also grow them for medicinal purposes, for the healers and dragonhealers. I had a much better garden at Southern," she adds, with a reminiscent smile. "One of the healers moved into my cottage, after I left, and I brought quite a few cuttings and plants down, but I'd really need a greenhouse to raise some of them here."

"Way I see it," Mellayne says, "there's far worse things t'go on about - thank you, ma'am." Evidently abandoning the weed-pulling for a moment--possibly it's her proximity to that stickleblood plant that's put her off--Layne clambers to her feet, leaving trowel and clippers where they are. "Y'know Mum lived in a cliffside for the longest time, so any plants she had were either in the gardens on the ground or in a pot someplace, and the same with us. 'S a shame, really, that it gets too cold here to raise some of the things from home properly out here." For a moment, there's something openly wistful in Layne's face, if you're watching; then again, it doesn't exactly leap out at an onlooker. And then it's gone, as the young woman shakes her head once. Just once. "Then again, I'd imagine it gets too warm at home to raise some of what's growin' here. Anyhow." Now she really does offer a hand, plus a few earthy smudges. "It really is good to meet you again, weyrlingmaster." That might sound like a nonsequitor, but it's less of one than it initially seems.

"There's something quite reassuring about living in solid rock during a Pass, I suppose, but I'd have hated not having my garden - I was so glad when Hattie offered me a plot here." Jantha takes the offered hand, smudges notwithstanding - she has a few of her own, in fact. "You too, Mellayne. Give my regards to your mother, if you write, won't you? I haven't seen her the last couple of times I visited Southern."

"She's just fond of cliffsides, or that's what she always said, anyhow. she did finally move into a cottage a Turn or so ago, and she took everything was in her old weyr and set it up almost the same way. Even that--" Mellayne trails off in chuckles, and leaves the description of her mother's cottage alone. "Either I'll write, or she'll come up here 'n' visit, or I'll get a ride down, but I'll tell her, ma'am." Layne's hand is rough, broken nails and callouses, but it's warm besides. "And she'll likely tell all my aunties." Well wouldja look at that. The smile's back.


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