Last & Second Chances


Nov. 30, 2022. November is most known for the Thanksgiving holiday. This year, I’ll remember it most for its last and second chances…at gardening, paddling, hiking, blading and renewing relationships. I missed the traditional gathering because I was traveling, but received many reminders to be thankful. One doesn’t need a big family dinner for that. See examples in photos and captions below.

We had to dress warmly but felt warmed by our enduring friendship, as Susan and I grabbed a last-chance (?) paddle on the Patuxent River (Md.) in late November. (We may get a 2nd “last chance!”)
In a truly last chance to reap nature’s abundance, I joined other volunteers at a community garden in Arlington, Va., to gather the last giant squashes for delivery to local food pantries.
We also removed the tomato vines and the structure that held them. How forlorn the vines look after months of production! But they will be back. As Judy Collins sang, “The seasons, they go ’round and ’round…”
Removing these tiny plastic fasteners from the vines was painstaking and slow. It reminded me of the process required to disengage from negative mental habits. Find it first, then disconnect, then dispose…and, often, repeat! Fortunately, we have 2nd, and 3rd (etc.) chances to erase mental ruts. I’m grateful for that!
A university lacrosse team helped pack the last green tomatoes, reminding me that community service is alive and well among young adults. Did you know that lacrosse was begun by Native Americans and was originally known as stickball? That it’s a lot like hockey? I’m grateful for 2nd chances to learn new things from unexpected sources.
A late-November visit to the Schifferstadt Architectural Museum in Frederick, Md. gave me a 2nd chance….
…to renew a friendship with a former colleague who is a docent there. Boyce was a well-known science writer and editor in the 90s while I represented taxpayer-funded science. I haven’t seen him since. Now he gives tours of this 18th-century farmhouse, built by his ancestors, not far from my home! (Here, he explains the ingenious German-made five-panel stove.) We once shared a common passion to increase public understanding of science. Now we’re both discovering new ways to serve the public. I’m grateful for this 2nd chance to see him.
Roller blading on fallen leaves is tricky, as they can be slippery, but I’m grateful that the paved paths along George Washington Parkway are uncrowded in November.
Fall leaves make quite an impression even when they’re on the ground. Our feet made quite a racket in Tuckahoe State Park (eastern Maryland) in mid-November. I’m grateful for this last-chance autumn hike, even though we had to hunt for it.
Bare trees allow the sun to create such interesting designs, such as on this bridge in Tuckahoe State Park. I’m grateful for my eyesight and hope I never lose it.

Finally, I am most grateful for another “last chance” to spend time with Mom in Montana during November. I don’t have a photo to share here (it’s complicated), but can confirm that she remains tough and smart and informed and self-propelled…at age 100! (She turns 101 in December.) Each time, I think it must be the last time. And yet, there’s another. I’m grateful for each one, and know that one of these times will be the last…but I hope it isn’t soon. She still has much to teach me, mostly about myself! We all inherit things from our parents, and our “2nd-chance” understanding of those things goes on and on….

5 thoughts on “Last & Second Chances

  1. Thanks so much for this thought-provoking posting. I was thinking recently that I hadn’t seen anything from you lately. We are at Carrabelle after taking a month off and visiting our respective homes for the month of November. Now we’re waiting for a good weather window to head to Steinhatchee, probably Sunday. Blessings on ya!

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      1. Good to hear from you. Yes, the Gulf was calm and we enjoyed a lovely Gulf crossing. The long weather window was apparently the longest in recent memory! Many Loopers waited for many days to make the crossing. We are at Clewiston now, soon to head across Okeechobee. God continues to bless us! Have a blessed Christmas!

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