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The Circles of Our Lives

Where we share ourselves is where we make ourselves

BGE has been wielding the grim reaper’s scythe in our neighborhood. Not only limbs aspiring to electric lines but whole trees have fallen. The wounds are still fresh. You can read the story of many a tree’s life in the map of concentric rings exposed on the raw stump.
    The Fairhaven communities will be walking the roads this Saturday on their annual litter pick-up.
    Those activist neighbors are one of my near circles.
    Like a growing tree, our lives spread out in concentric circles. Circles radiate out from inner lives to our home and family lives to our neighborhood lives to our work lives to our civic lives. Even to our many-circled Internet lives.
    If we’re busy people, our lives may have as many circles as a mature tree has rings.
    What circles do you move in?
    The people we write about in Bay Weekly are typically very public citizens, busy doing things in many circles of life.
    Like James Barrett. You’ll read about him this week not because he was one of the Fairhaven boys who made good but because he’s made a name for himself on a much wider scale, as a passionate, philosophy-driven chef whose work speaks so loudly for itself that he was voted a finalist for Maryland Chef of the Year.
    (By the way, if you haven’t helped him earn that honor, March 9 is the last day to vote:
    Like Don Wright, the 71-year-old Minnesotan who ran the B&A Trail Marathon here last week to make Maryland the 44th state in his 50-state quest to outrun cancer. Wright’s turned a very private circle, his fight for life, into a very public one, becoming a marathon fundraiser for two charities, Team Continuum ( and Tackle Cancer ( to help cancer patients and their families pay for living expenses.
    Like all the musicians you’ll read about in Angela Worland’s story Sounds Good, Annapolis — and all the club owners, too — who’ve transformed their private passion for music into a public experience.

Farewell to Public Citizen Pat Carpenter

    Another very public citizen, Pat Carpenter was taken from us this week, and it’s her life and death that set my thoughts on the circles of our lives.
    If your circle touches the Twin Beaches, you know Pat’s name and you probably knew her. The whole broader circle of Calvert County had cause to know Pat. That’s because when Pat and her husband Bob moved to Chesapeake Beach, they made themselves public citizens.
    Choosing a home in Windward Key, facing both the Bay and Fishing Creek, they had an easy excuse if they’d chosen to give themselves up to the water. Many of us have on coming to Chesapeake Country.
    That wasn’t Pat’s way, nor Bob’s. Instead, they faced outward, into the life of their communities. Bob’s a national-level political strategist, and creating networks is his business. Perhaps it’s his business because it’s his nature, and perhaps Pat and he were drawn together because they shared that disposition.
    I first heard of the Carpenters because of their Sunday soirees, potluck dinners attended by community-builders throughout the Beaches and increasingly, all of Calvert. Next I saw their names on a State Highway Administration roadside cleanup sign proclaiming that Friends of Pat and Bob Carpenter fought litter on the stretch of Rt. 260 leading into Chesapeake Beach.
    Next they were honorary chairs of Rod ’n’ Reel’s Celebration of Life fundraiser to fight cancer. Bob won a seat on the Chesapeake Beach Town Council, and Pat helped the town organize and publicize its events. She supported local businesses as an officer and then president of the Beach (now Bay) Business Group. She supported the arts as executive director of the Council of Calvert Arts and the public voice of CalvART Gallery.
    Pat and Bob knew everybody, and you saw them everywhere, from new business openings — where they might well sponsor the reception — to, perhaps most recently, Twin Beach Players’ dinner production of Love Letters, at Rod ’n’ Reel February 12.
    Two weeks later, on Friday, February 24, Pat emailed an artist friend from the emergency room, saying she was having chest pains and that they’d have to cancel their dinner.
    Pat died a week later, in the evening of Friday, March 2.
    Such vitality and energy, all gone.
    Our lives reverberate in all the circles where we’ve made and shared ourselves. Pat gave herself widely, far beyond the circles where I knew her. The good she did was widespread, and so the waves — of shock and sorrow, appreciation and loss — ripple in many circles.
    Pat’s husband Bob and sons Lane and Matt Giardina are hosting a celebration of her life from 4-7pm Sunday, March 11, at the Rod ’n’ Reel in Chesapeake Beach.