Maybe you’re fortunate enough to have 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 a story about how a farm was born.

Bacon spit in an iron skillet over blue flames. Rain pelted the tin roof that kept the hall-less wooden house dry. The fire cracked in the corner losing its battle against the last insurgence of winter cold.

“We need a bigger house,” Bevie announced over the tray of hot biscuits.

Robert paused as he adjusted his suspenders before pulling on his overcoat.

Bevie placed her free hand on her belly, three months and swelling. “We need a bigger house.”

Robert grabbed a biscuit and left that morning without sitting for eggs and bacon, without taking his two cups of bitter coffee from the flame-stained white enamel percolator. He didn’t wait for the warmth of the kitchen to draw his three children from their chilly bedroom. The six-foot-four man couldn’t find words for his five-foot wife that morning, He left for work in the rain with a dry biscuit and damp tobacco.

Not all infelicities are infelicitous.

The wipers beat against the sheets of rain with a fury that paled against the clash of thoughts and worry in Robert’s mind. White knuckles on the wheel, his biscuit became crumbs in his lap, the tobacco mixed with mud on the floorboard.

Maybe it was his internal angst or, possibly, a pot hole on the dirt road. Perhaps it was the relentless rain or maybe his tires simply surrendered to the slippery clay. We’ll never know for sure more than this: he suddenly found himself in a soggy red ditch off the road that would become Highway 60.

Some infelicities aren’t.

I believe some events —and, on occasion, our vehicles —are driven by something bigger than pregnant wives and the two-bedroom home your family has outgrown.

Mr. Williams lived on the south side of that road, and he saw the young man swerve and slide into the ditch. He had his own opinions about young men and their driving habits. Still, he walked across his yard though the rain to give the boy a hand.

Embarrassment has a way of tipping the tongue. Words fall out against our will and our better judgment, often with blunt honesty that might otherwise be uncharacteristic of that tongue.

By the time Robert and Mr. Williams hoisted the vehicle out of the ditch, they stood on the dirt road with all the information that would make the incident felicitous.

“That land there,” Mr. Williams said pointing to the hill north of the road. “It’s for sale. Some thirty acres, I reckon. You could build a fine home there.”

And that was the day Fairpop Farm became a twinkle in my family’s eye.

The particulars and minutia of the days leading up to the actual birth have been washed away by time and rain. We do know, however, that before Bevie’s fourth child was born, a farm was born on Highway 60.

©Pennie Nichols. All Rights Reserved. 2024