Maybe you’re fortunate enough to have a place in your life so charged with meaning, spirit, and personality that it’s a member of your family, a dear friend, or a wise confidant. In other words, a main character in your life. This is an installment in a series of mostly true stories about Fairpop Farm, a place that became the hub and a main character in our family.

The breezeway at the farmhouse generated simple moments you wanted to repeat.

No one designed the breezeway as a gathering space. But once they hung the swing from the beam between the detached garage and the back porch, that patch of covered concrete became the place to be.

Nothing fancy about it. No fire pit or fountain. A view interrupted by the cinderblock pump housing, a shed, and the mimosa.

—Why don’t you sit for a spell?

Seating was sparse. The swing only sat two adults, maybe three kids.

—Just reach inside that door to the garage and grab a chair.

Of course, you would check for spiders before grabbing the aluminum folding chair, then shake off the sticky webs and wrapped flies before taking a seat on the green nylon webbing.

The breezes rolled down from the north field to carry most of the flies and mosquitos south of us. Even though the words we shared were light as feathers, they resisted the breeze and lingered long enough to impress the moments on the heart.

We spoke words of weather, sermons, and the tomatoes in the garden, mostly over tasks, because idle hands…

—Pass me some of those beans, and I’ll snap them.

—Do you want me to ice down those cobs?

Gathering Organically

Sometimes the spaces where we come together are gathering spaces by design, a living room, a patio, a porch. Other gathering spaces, like the breezeway between the back porch and the garage, develop organically.

I tried to sort out when the garage and then the breezeway were added, but memories are foggy. I suspect that the breezeway was an afterthought prompted by my grandmother.

—Robert, how am I supposed to get the groceries from the garage to the kitchen when it’s raining?

breezeway fish

circa 1967: my brother with his catch from the front pond, my barefoot grandmother (I love the bare feet in this photo), and a folding lawn chair.

Because wet paper bags do fall apart.

Decades of adults and children shared this afterthought of a space. As an adolescent, I shelled peas in the breezeway, said “Ew!” when I saw my grandmother help my brother clean the fish he caught, and drank from the hose because I was too busy to go in the house for a glass of water. A new generation of children would swing too wildly, eat watermelon, and hose off the red juices, while the older folks shucked corn in the breezeway.

The breezeway and creaking swing are long gone. I remember very few specific words exchanged over that slab of covered concrete. New birds fill the air with song, different crickets fuss at night, but the sanctity of those shared moments in the breezeway lingers.

©Pennie Nichols. All Rights Reserved. 2024