Long Live the Peach

Join High Touch High Tech in celebrating
Peach Blossom Day
March 3, 2021

Imagine a hot summer’s day, sitting in the shade at a picnic with your favorite people.  You open your picnic basket to find a gloriously ripe, perfect-in-every-way peach.  You take a bite and savor that unique combination of texture, flavor, and juiciness that makes perfectly ripe peaches so wonderful, wipe a little juice off your chin, and smile….   

Image Source: Pixabay.com

OK, sorry to have to bring you crashing back to snowy late winter, but from that moment of peachy Zen, perhaps you can see why peaches, perfection, and the joy of life have gone hand in hand for centuries.  Not only does calling someone “a peach” make a fine compliment, peaches have been immortalized in rock songs, are associated with the entire American state of Georgia, and are even one of the world’s favorite emojis.  No culture on earth loves a peach more than Chinese culture, the people who first domesticated and perfected the peach far back in the ancient past.  In China, the peach blossom symbolizes happiness, and the peach fruit itself is a symbol of longevity and the full enjoyment of a long, healthy life.  Ancient Chinese folk tales tell of an Orchard of the Gods where the Peach Tree of Immortality grows – anyone who manages just one bite of the juicy fruit gets eternal life.  The Chinese God of Longevity, Shou Lao, is almost always depicted holding a peach, and peach-themed decorations and cakes are a customary part of any older person’s birthday. 

Image Source: Pixabay.com

Cultures around the world often turn to the natural world for symbols that can express the joy of life and hope for longevity.  In some Indigenous American cultures, the turtle was a sacred symbol of a long, healthy life.  The strong, ever-enduring turtle also symbolized the earth itself, the giver of all life.  Even today many Indigenous American groups refer to the American Continent as “Turtle Island.”  Currently, turtles and their tortoise cousins are known to science as some of the longest-lived animals on the planet, weathering season after season in their slow and steady fashion.  The Royal Court of Oyo State, in Nigeria, claimed a tortoise named Alagba, “The Elderly One,” was supposedly 344 years old.  There is no 100% proof of this claim; however, the crown of world’s oldest Testudine, or any known animal, in fact, goes to Jonathan, a 187-year-old Tortoise living on St. Helena.

Image Source: Pixabay.com

In the European world, many thinkers from Aristotle to Leonardo da Vinci revered the humble salamander, believing that the creature was able to constantly renew itself and was therefore indestructible.  Salamanders were thought to be born from fire, live impervious to fire’s damage, and be able to renew themselves constantly through the power of fire.  Leonardo da Vinci was particularly fascinated with them, and King Francis I of France adopted the salamander as his personal emblem.  Contemporary biologists would never put a salamander under any threat of fire, but the salamander’s well-documented ability to regenerate its limbs may have something to do with its long association with indestructability and longevity.

Image Source: Pixabay.com

From peaches to salamanders to evergreen trees and tortoises, people have long looked to the natural world for proof that a long, healthy, and happy life is truly possible.  Many scientists around the world are currently working on the issue of longevity, researching many possibilities to unlock the secret of long life.  For some researchers, it may lie in psychological and emotional health, in a person’s mindset, upbringing, and relationships.  For some researchers it lies in the genes.  For others, it is diet and exercise that is the “fountain of youth.”  But in today’s world, science does show us that there is yet another animal worthy of admiration (and study) for its longevity: The Immortal Jellyfish, Turritopsis dohrnii.  This incredible creature is literal proof that longevity, even immortality, exists in nature.  When it dies and sinks to the sea floor, the cells simply regenerate into tiny polyps and continue living.  Only recently discovered and not fully understood, this unbelievable animal is indisputable proof that it is within natures design to attain a long, healthy life!  So, sit back, relax, and take a bite of that peach.  Life is sweet, and it can be long and healthy, too.

Image Source: Pixabay.com

Our little insect friends, bees, may not enjoy the long life that other creatures do, but they sure do make an impact while they buzz around! In fact, bees play an important role in the longevity of the peach blossom through pollination! So, in honor of Peach Blossom Day on March 3rd, we invite you to play our Bee Pollination Game! Check out the lesson plan and supply list link below…and then maybe enjoy one of those delicious, juicy peaches!
https://sciencemadefun.net/downloads/bee_pollination_game.pdf

Sources:

Learn more about the Immortal Jellyfish:
https://www.bbcearth.com/modal/newsletter/#_

The rich tradition of Salamander Lore in the European world: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salamanders_in_folklore

The Oldest Tortoises – BBC News

Turtle Symbolism:
https://blog.nativehope.org/native-american-animals-turtle-k%C3%A9ya

A collection of Indigenous American turtle myths:
http://www.native-languages.org/legends-turtle.htm

Chinese Symbols of Longevity in popular culture:
https://www.wofs.com/8-great-longevity-symbols-for-the-home/

The DEFINITIVE rock anthem about peaches:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wvAnQqVJ3XQ

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