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.

This is the story of a very good peach and planting the peach seed.

I was one of the younger of Robert and Bevie’s grandchildren, only 7 when my Papa Nick died. I have two vivid memories of my grandfather. The last one is from his last days: his feet sticking up in the bed like fenceposts.

Feet in the Middle Bedroom

They didn’t tell us much about what was happening, but I picked up enough to know he wasn’t in a good way.

It’s those cigarettes…

But sometimes he went for years without smoking…

His lungs…

He doesn’t have long…

I was standing outside the middle bedroom of the farmhouse he had built 28 years before. The door was ajar, and I could see his long feet, toes to the ceiling, socks on. His lungs were still drawing air, but we had been told not to disturb him. His feet became my last living memory of my grandfather.

For many years I was afraid to stay in the middle bedroom alone. When I was sleeping in there with Bevie (my Mama Nick), I refused to fall asleep first.

“More!” I’d insist, wiggling to wake up her hand so she’d keep scratching my back.

A year or two before Papa Nick took his last breath in that house —before my dad moved us to San Jose for a year —he was standing in the kitchen with me. I had a peach.

The family up the way might have grown my peach in their modest peach orchard just off Highway 60. Or maybe it came from Clinton, in the hills close to the Mississippi state line.

My grandfather probably peeled it for me with his bone-handled pocket knife. I ate it, sweet and juicy. Maybe I declared, “More!” or “I wanna eat these all the time!” Maybe Robert Nichols saw the joy on my face and answered, “Well, peaches do grow on trees.”

Planting the Peach Seed

I carried the peach seed as I followed my grandfather through the back porch and to the backyard. He picked up a shovel along the way. Just outside the pigsty, we (I use “we” loosely) dug a hole and planted my peach seed.

The old saying —that didn’t exactly go like this —comes to mind:  “Give a girl a fish, and she’ll eat for a day. Teach her to fish, and she’ll eat for a lifetime.”

I don’t know if my peach seed ever cracked out of its hard exterior to reach for the sun. We moved to California shortly after I planted it, and I couldn’t keep an eye on it from San Jose. It was that year that Robert fell ill with cancer, and even if he did remember that seed, he wouldn’t have had a mind for tending to it.

To this day, I don’t have a peach tree of my own, and certainly not an orchard. But not all seeds need to break through the earth and reach for the sun to make the magic. Some seeds grow in the heart, as an act of love, as a lesson that endures for a lifetime.

I grew up holding the hope and promise of a peach seed, passing the act forward. My biggest joy is sharing moments and words, sometimes carelessly, like casting seeds into an unplowed field, sometimes with the care of a shovel and very particular seed.

You don’t need a farm or a shovel to seed enduring moments. We all have the power to share the promise of a seed in the soil.

©Pennie Nichols. All Rights Reserved. 2024.