As you might have guessed from the title, I’m going to give you another “About Last Thursday Tale” this week. (See last week’s blog for an explanation.) I want to mention that when I write these stories, I have to write them in the voicing I hear in my head, or they just don’t work. The people in this particular story came to me with at least a nod to the Tennessee culture from which much of my family comes.
In fact, two of the names in the story fell straight out of my family tree. The first is “Pleasant,” (or “Pleaz” as men with this name are often called.) Of the 11,000 or so names on my tree, “Pleasant Green” is my hands-down favorite. I really wish that hyphenating last names at marriage would have been a thing in this culture because if Pleaz and his wife Virginia Irene would have done so, they would have been, (I kid you not,) the “Pleasant Brown Green Family.” One could have only wished for a daughter named Olive to carry that moniker forward.
The second family name I’ve honored here is Fayette. For those of you who are reading, that’s pronounced like FATE. For those of you listening, it’s spelled F-A-Y-E-T-T-E. How could I resist the urge to include a character named “Pastor FATE?”
In case you’re wondering, Fayette is short for Marquis de la Fayette, as it’s pronounced in Appalachia. There are quite a few of them in this community, due most likely to the fact that this community includes descendants of the actual Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de la Fayette, known to most Americans simply as Lafayette, (1757-1834. He served under George Washington during the American Revolution and commanded the Continental Forces in Virginia against the British.)
This community is connected to a large number of notable historical figures of all types and from all backgrounds, all swirled together into one family. If you thought you knew what people from Appalachia are like? If you didn’t know this history, I guarantee you do not know what we are all about!
But I digress. I have a story to give you, out of several of the multiple traditions of my family. This story is about a peach tree.
If you want to grow some peaches…
A long, long time ago… about last Thursday… a young woman and an almost young man got married. Not too long after, they were sitting around their house when the husband says to the wife, “Wife?” And the wife says to the husband, “Husband?” And the husband says to the wife, “Wife? I think we should plant us a peach tree!”
The young wife’s eyes brightened. She thought for a minute. Then she says, “Husband?” And the husband says to the wife, “Wife?” And the wife says to the husband, “Husband? I think that’s a great idea! I don’t know anything about planting trees, but I’d like to learn. I like peaches. And if we grow some, we can make pies and preserves and can some. We can have some all year, and even give some away in case anybody’s hungry. Yes, husband. Let’s plant us a peach tree.”
So that young wife set out to learn all she could about planting and growing peach trees. The husband brought home a little baby tree and the wife did everything she had learned to make it grow.
Some time went by, and the tree grew and grew. The young wife was happy to see it grow. She took really good care of it. The husband said he’d care for it too, but he never seemed to have time.
“Oh well,” thought the young wife, “I’m sure he’ll help eventually. In the meantime, I’ll just keep doing everything I can to help our little peach tree grow some peaches.”
And so she did. Year after year, the not so young anymore wife took care of that tree. The not at all young anymore husband looked at the tree every once in a while. He noticed it was growing, but he also noticed it still wasn’t growing any peaches.
So one day the husband, at the end of a long day says to the wife, “Wife?” and the wife says to the husband, “Husband?” and the Husband says to the wife, “Wife? How come there ain’t any peaches on that tree?”
The wife looked down at the floor, sad, and a little defeated. “Husband, I just don’t know.”
So the Husband says to the wife, “Well, maybe you should go ask Farmer Pleasant down the road. He might know what you’re doing wrong.”
This made the wife a little mad. Why didn’t he ask Farmer Pleasant? Wasn’t this their tree? But the wife didn’t want to hurt the husband. So she sat on those thoughts for a while. For the sake of the tree, she decided to go ahead and ask Farmer Pleasant.
The next day, the not so young anymore wife saw Farmer Pleasant just on the other side of the fence between their properties and took her chance to ask him.
“Farmer Pleasant? You got a minute?”
Farmer Pleasant, always the gentleman, tipped his hat and came over to the fence. “Always happy to help a neighbor,” he replied graciously.
The not so young anymore wife explained the situation to Farmer Pleasant. She told him all the things she had done, how she’d care for and nurtured the tree, but still… no peaches.
“HHmmm…” replied Farmer Pleasant, thoughtfully. “It sounds like you’re doing all the right things. Maybe it just needs a little more time. Keep doing what you’re doing. I betcha later this summer you’ll get you some peaches.”
So the not so young anymore wife set out even harder to help that peach tree grow some peaches. She tended to it. She pruned it. She fed its soil. She even sang to it. Spring came and went. Summer came in fierce and hot and then made its way out. Still no peaches.
One warm September night the husband and wife were sitting outside enjoying the quiet when the husband says, “Wife?” and the wife says “Husband?” and the Husband says “Wife, there still ain’t no peaches on that tree. Did you do everything Farmer Pleasant said to do??”
This made the wife very angry. But she heard the words of her grandmaw in her head, “You’ll catch more honey with flies than vinegar!” So the wife says to the husband, “Husband?” and the husband says to the wife, “Wife?” and the wife says to the husband, “Husband? I think that tree needs your touch. Maybe you are the one with that magic to help that tree make some peaches.”
The husband looked annoyed. But he wanted to see some peaches, and maybe that tree did need something he had that she didn’t. “Ok ok ok…” said the husband. “I’ll give it some time.”
But he kinda never got around to it.
Another year came and went, and then another. Still no help from the husband, and still no peaches. The wife was starting to feel all kinds of feels about this situation. But she really wanted to be a good wife. She didn’t want to nag. And she didn’t want to just take everything over either. They said they were going to be partners. She was going to treat him like a partner whether or not he acted like one.
But this peach situation – this was starting to feel like some sort of spiritual issue. So she went to talk to Pastor Fayette in town.
Pastor Fayette heard the wife out, nodding his head and saying all the right, “Hmmm’s” and “uh-huhsss” in all the right places.
After the wife stopped speaking, Pastor Fayette took a long pause and a deep breath. He looked the wife in eye and said, “Sister? You were right to come to me. This is indeed a spiritual issue, as well as a marital one. Sister, you need to pray. You need to pray hard and long. You need to pray hard and long with clean hands and clean heart and be the very best wife you can be! Your husband will come around eventually. And God will bless you with peaches on that tree!”
And with that, Pastor Fayette took her hands into his and prayed long and hard for her. He prayed for her to have faith and to have courage. He prayed for her to be faithful and fervent. He prayed for her over and over and over again and prayed for those peaches in Jesus precious name, amen!”
The wife was grateful for the support, but something just didn’t feel right about it. She wasn’t sure what though. I mean, what could be bad about praying long and hard with clean hands and clean heart? And she certainly wanted to be the best wife she could be. So she did everything Pastor Fayette had suggested, day after day, week after week, year after year.
There were still no peaches on that tree.
Well in this time, the wife had struck up a friendship with a Chickamauga Medicine Woman who lived on the edge of town. The Medicine Woman seemed to understand a great many things and had helped the wife keep her mind glued together many times when all it seemed to want to do was to fall apart. She decided to ask the Medicine Woman for help with this whole peach problem.
The Medicine Woman came to the woman’s home and asked her if they could take a walk together. The wife handed the Medicine Woman a pouch of tobacco and sage, as a sign of respect and gratitude. They started off walking all the way around the property in a great big circle. Then they walked a path of smaller and smaller circles, until they found themselves walking around the peach tree.
At first, the wife felt a little uneasy, because the Medicine Woman wasn’t saying anything. The more they walked, the more the woman started to hear the sounds around them. She heard the birds, the different trees, a chorus of bugs here and there, some squirrels noisily chasing each other across branches; She heard the way the wind moved through the leaves, through the various windchimes, turning weathervanes… Suddenly what used to seem quiet was very, very loud.
By the time their circle came around to the peach tree, the woman had started to think that maybe she was a little crazy, because it was like she was getting messages through her feet. They weren’t coming in words. It was more like pictures, ideas, impressions. She decided to stop worrying about whether or not she was crazy, and just listen.
The Medicine Woman quietly said, “I’m getting tired. Let’s sit.”
The two women sat under the peach tree, resting against its trunk. The Medicine Woman put her hands on the dirt and grass. The woman became very aware of the feel of the tree on her back.
After what seemed like both a very long while, and like no time at all, the Medicine Woman, without looking up, quietly and gently affirmed, “There ain’t no peaches on this tree.”
The woman thanked the Medicine Woman and set off right away to pack up her things and leave.
That woman started a whole new life for herself. She planted peach trees, and also grew special herbs that the Medicine Woman had taught her about over the years. Her farm was so successful that, in addition to giving pounds and pounds of peaches, teas and herbs away to anyone in need while still having plenty for herself, she also started canning and selling unique and precious peach concoctions.
One day she was in town delivering an order to a local store when she ran into none other than Farmer Pleasant. She greeted him warmly and asked about his family and his crops.
He looked at her gently for a moment and said, “I have something I’d kinda like to tell you, but I don’t know how you’re going to feel about it.”
The woman winked and said, “With all I’ve been through? Truth don’t scare me no more.”
“Welp…” Farmer Pleasant started out, “Remember that peach tree you tried so hard to grow? The one that never grew a single peach?”
The woman nodded.
“Your old husband, he was so mad at that tree for not growing peaches that he chopped it down one day. Chopped into all kinds of little pieces. He’s been burning up the logs for firewood ever since!”
The woman smiled. Then she laughed. Then she laughed so hard she nearly lost all of her breath and her balance!
She thanked Farmer Pleasant and handed him two jars of her specialty bourbon ginger peaches. And she never looked back again.
If you’d like help with your peaches, or your trees, or anything else, contact Tiffany today. Let’s talk.