Love, love, love trips to Tetons and Yellowstone, but they always mean time for another oil change when I get back home.
Which means, in late September, getting up at 5 a.m. and leaving by 5:45 a.m., when it's still very dark outside. This doesn't even take into consideration how difficult it can be to pull myself out of bed that time of day. I'm definitely an early bird, but there are days. And this was one of them.
We'd had a really good rain the night before, so I watered just the pots on the porch, which don't receive any of the sky's moisture. Watering by the light of the porch, I was shocked to see my de-peppered pepper plants had been cut (or perhaps eaten) nearly to the ground. Not just the beautiful leaves, mind you. No, the entire pepper plants.
I'd just received my sibirica iris bulbs - Sinfonietta and Deep Blue - from the Netherlands the day before. I'd carefully inspected everything in the garden because I was looking for the best homes for my new blues. My pepper plants were intact at dark just 12 hours earlier. We'd made use of the peppers the previous weekend when The Lizard concocted his famous homemade chicken enchiladas.
Closer inspection of the pepper plant remnants provided the appearance of cut as opposed to bite, which likely points to probable human activity. Three stalks of corn remain in the garden just a few feet from the porch. Three pots of quinoa line the stairway leading up to the porch. Any hungry animal would have feasted on more palpable offerings, not on Serrano, Cayenne, Anaheim and Poblano peppers.
The Lizard wondered if perhaps someone thought my de-peppered pepper plants were... um, something other than peppers. I looked closely at photos I'd taken of my pepper plants over the last few years, and to me, there is no resemblence whatsoever. But this crime was committed in the dark. Perhaps in the dark pepper plants could be mistaken for a rocky mountain high in Colorado, as the song goes.
If the pepper thief thought my peppers were something else, boy is he or she in for a surprise next time they light up!
Halloween's getting close. Sometimes pranks come hand-in-hand with the traditional end-of-October treats. For the first two years in our house, we had nightly unwelcome and often alarming doorbell rings (ring and runs, as they are known here) well past the bewitching hour. So we disconnected the doorbell. That took care of that.
I grow peppers all year long; heck, I can't help it. I'm a native of New Mexico. I haven't tried peppers in chocolate yet (although some of my co-workers have), but not much else in my kitchen remains unpepperly sacred.
My pepper plants, some of them five years old now, would have been moving back inside the house within the coming couple of weeks, prior to the first frost. Now I'll have to start several of them over from scratch because I plant from seed. I checked the local nurseries to see if anyone still had a pepper plant in need of a home, but no peppers this late in the season.
We've had bear in our back yard three times we know of, and those hungry critters (which visited this time of year in the past) devoured everything edible, as well as a few things, such as the compost pile, I would have considered off-tastebud-limits. They made me very nervous about going into the back yard after dark any time of year.
Our first peppered thought was perhaps a bear had paid our porch a visit. But why would a bear pass up all the other edibles to encroach upon human habitat that could well be risky? I just can't imagine a bear lumbering around our porch without knocking over many of the resident pots and sun-loving glass dye jars that abound and basically waking the undead for blocks around.
We spent the first four years in our house battling the tenacious will of territorial rabbits who firmly believed the garden was their own private dining room. Wild rabbits typically live about three years, and the infamous Pierce staked her claim for four. I honestly don't think a rabbit would have passed up the corn to come up onto the porch, three steps up into humandom. Rabbits likely would not have neglected other plants on the porch, including the broccoli, spinach and sweet peas.
Pierce hasn't shown herself for more than a year now. I suspect she outlived most of her species but eventually did go the way of all rabbits. In a best-case scenario, my peppers may have been gobbled by a member of her posterity. We've been happily rabbit-free this year until now, if that is the case. And if that is the case, we'll be calling upon chicken wire again next spring.
It could have been squirrels. But again, why would they take only the pepper plants and turn their noses up at all the other edibles?
The possibility remains this could have been human mischief. Mean human mischief, at that.
I waited to see what would be missing from the garden the next morning before I left for work. TWO more pepper plants were clean cut off in the middle of the night! GRRRRRRR!
So, the pepper plants got to come back in the house early. We didn't wait for first freeze. Or for the pepper chopper to strike again!