My son, so far as I know, does not have the plague. He also takes baths on a rather regular basis.

You would not know this if you came in contact with him recently, as his hands are stained a dark brown that would make the most casual observer assume he either had some disastrous disease or had not seen the inside of a bathtub in weeks.

Alas, he has pecan hands. He and some classmates found some pecans on the playground at recess recently. They decided to crack open said pecans, and what followed was the addition of a pecan oil that, so far as I can tell, is the most permanent dye nature has ever produced. Thus, his hands are now stained a deep brown normally reserved for dress shoes.

We have tried numerous remedies. Thanks to Dr. Google, we have tried various combinations of vinegar, lemon juice, baking soda and so on. We did not opt for gasoline or fingernail polish remover, as were suggested on several sites. For what itís worth, I think any site that recommends gasoline on a childís skin as a cleaning solution is probably one to steer clear of.

A co-worker of mine was lamenting that she had a pressure washer accident recently and hit her hand with the washer. The spray took some flesh clean off. I only considered pressure washing his hands for a moment.

Alas, I think time may be the best cleanser. Each day, the stain abates a little bit more. From what I have read, after two weeks, the stains should go away (although itís faster if you pressure wash).

Frustrating as the stains may be, it did serve to warm my heart a smidge, as the pecan encounter led me to recall a pecan moment from my childhood, as the pecan, in addition to being delicious when not encased in its hand-staining shell, is the basis for one of my fondest childhood memories.

Perched above my bed are three shelves. They hold pictures of mine and my wifeís families. One of the pictures is of me, maybe 2 years old, with my great-grandfather. We are walking in his yard. Heís wearing a dark suit and a hat, looking as sharp as a man can look and carrying a large basket. I, meanwhile, am sporting green plaid pajama pants and a white shirt. Clearly, we are representing two very different fashion eras. Iím placing pecans in the basket.

I donít have a lot of memories of my great-grandparents. They passed away when I was very young. The memories I have, I am sure, are mostly implanted ones that have been illustrated by stories my family has told me over the years. Iím sure this one is one of those. But my mind tells me I remember that walk with Great-Granddaddy. We would go to Tuscaloosa, Ala., and he and I would go pick up pecans from the trees in his yard. That, my memory tells me, was our thing.

When I was in college, my grandmother still lived in Tuscaloosa. I remember sitting at her house one night, having dinner. I commented about how I remember picking up pecans, fresh off the tree, with her father. She laughed.

It was then she told me that, in fact, the pecans had fallen months before. My great-grandfather would pack them up and store them. When we came to visit, he would spread them out on the ground, and we would then go pick them up. In fact, it may have only happened once. Doesnít matter to me, though. The memory of that tradition is as very real as any other I have.

Iíd like to think that Parkerís pecan-stained hands were just a little cosmic reminder of a memory of my childhood (whether I actually remember it or not). The time spent over a bathroom sink scrubbing his hands with a brush and Googling remedies that did not include gasoline were perhaps a reason for me to stop for a moment and think about when I was kid. Maybe you need those life reflections every now and then. And it appears, at this rate, Iíll have this one for about two weeks.

Born and raised in Aiken, Mike Gibbons is a graduate of the University of Alabama. He can be reached at