06 November 2007

Pepper Picking

Sunday evening, my friend Lindsay drove Emma and me to her grandmother's house. Our goal: fill a market bag with the peppers ripening in the vegetable garden.

First, she showed us her room, the room her two aunts grew up in and left their acid green carpet behind. One window looked South on the two ancient front yard trees. One window looked West on the garden and the horse farm next door. One window looked North on the backyard swing set and the field beyond where once there was a blue-tongued bull that let children pet it sometimes.

Then: harvesting time. While we explored her yard and the vegetable garden, the sun set in a blaze of orange and purple behind the neighbor's industrial sized farm complex. It was almost hard to tear our eyes away from it to focus on the task at hand. But we did explore, seeking out ripe peppers, strolling through towering lima bean vines dangling fuzzy white bean pods, walking the edges of the property and sounding memories. This place had a sense of place; it knew what it had been, and what it was now. It knew because Lindsay knew; it knew because she spoke its memories.

We drove back to campus when the sky faded to blue-black. Our market bag brimmed with green bell peppers and a mysteriously mild red pepper that may be Serrano, or Anaheim, or Early Jalapeño, or maybe even Hungarian Hot Wax left to redden. Sometimes this happens with gardens: you plant the seeds and something totally unexpected shows up, a stranger whose face is distantly familiar but whose name you can't place. It's all part of the adventure.

1 comment:

AJ Star said...

what a beautiful picture--or should i say pictures? the actual photograph of the place is breathtaking, but i adore that you put it at the end because it really only supports the image you already created with your writing. i can't wait to see what recipes come from this adventure.