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Late Tomatoes Author: Chrissy Stergos, MAC LPC

Last spring I broke my elbow, which put a damper on a lot of A LOT of things. I slept in a recliner for weeks, because as it turns out, modern treatment of a broken elbow is NO splint, NO cast, and NO stabilizer of any kind. Just time and physical therapy. And it worked. I’m fine. But spring and summer were not what I had planned.

For instance, I had ordered a new bike helmet so that I could get my bicycle out again and ride. No dice. You need both arms to ride a bike. I went on a Mexican vacation but couldn’t swim in the ocean because… turns out you need both arms. For a while, I couldn’t even use my laptop because keyboarding was too painful, and works much better when you have use of BOTH hands.

As I began to slowly heal, I found myself staring into the suddenly unpredictable nature of my summer. There were a few things I didn’t want to miss and I began to think there were things that maybe I could do with one arm. I wanted to use my backyard as a canvas. I wanted to plant my zinnias. I wanted to grow a few tomatoes.

With lots of help from my husband, we whipped the yard into shape. He bought me zinnia seeds from the local home store, and I planted them along the fence line with my one good arm. Zinnias are one of my favorites because you can cut the blooms and pop them into some water for inside display and they just bloom more. I plant them every year. He also bought two tomato starts and planted them for me in the sunniest patch of the yard. And while the zinnias went crazy with wild and colorful blossoms, I sort of forgot about the tomatoes. It had been late in the season. I didn’t expect much, and I just couldn’t keep up with the pruning and care.

Around mid-October I decided to take a closer look at the tomato plants I had left to fend for themselves- and much to my surprise I was harvesting big, beautiful sun-ripened tomatoes. I guess the conditions were just right without my help and the plants flourished, bloomed and bore fruit – a little late, but still. July or August would have been normal. September would have been stretching it. October? Weird.

In my counseling practice I often encounter people who wonder if it is too late in life to make a change. Almost no matter the age, we ask, “Is it too late to change my career path? Get a different degree or certification? Be different? Choose differently?” And I answer, “Never.”