August 21, 2014

Red Jalapenos and Other Hot Topics

I can hardly believe that the whole "Back To School" vibe is already here. To me, it feels like the summer was only just getting started, but now I'm noticing that the mornings have a trace of that autumnal nip in the air. Next Monday, the college is back in full swing and it almost doesn't seem possible. I definitely get that sense of newness at work these days, though, I have to confess that I didn't get to do as many things as I usually do during a summer and the thought of the approaching autumn is just a tad underwhelming. This weekend, we'll be having what is only our second Avant Garden Poetry Amphitheatre party for 2014; I really wanted to have a lot more. I guess we shall have to see what September and October will have in store weather-wise. With any luck, the warmth will stick around for a while longer. I do love the autumn, but, this time around, it kinda snuck up on me. One good thing that has come from this time of year is that I harvested my first batch of red jalapenos from the garden. For those of you that have ever only had the green ones that are found in supermarkets, the difference between ripe and green peppers is like night and day. Once red, jalapenos really turn up both the flavor and the heat. I sliced up several and pickled them in a jar. I love to cover my burgers in the little rings. They're so delicious and warming. All it takes is few pickled peppers and a dash of Sriracha sauce to make the burgers really sing. There is also something special about eating foods that one has grown at home. The taste is just a little bit nicer.

This past week, I did get to go on one of my djembe hikes. It is one of those trips in which I venture into the woods with my drum on my shoulder, find a log or boulder to sit on (preferably near a lake or stream), and ignite the landscape with African rhythms. I love to do it and it's one of those things that I wish I had done more of this summer. In October, I'm hoping to finally go on a leaf-peeping road trip to the mountains. I've been wanting to do it for a few autumns now and I think this year might be the one. I would definitely bring my djembe along on that adventure.

Also, with the exception of my trip to Chincoteague Island, I didn't make it to the beach at all this year. I love going for a wade in the ocean and I'm sad that opportunities to do it haven't come along more often. Oh, speaking of which, did you know that the Pacific Trash Vortex is now larger than the state of Texas and is visible from some places on the California coastline? I don't know who is using our ocean as their private garbage bin, but it is absolutely disgraceful. I can't believe that manufacturers are still pumping out disposable plastic bottles and packaging for the sake of profit. I denounce the entire practice and have vowed, for starters, to never purchase another plastic water bottle ever again. That is one industry that needs to disappear from the face of the planet right now.

Which reminds me of another hot topic. I also denounce the making and selling of any ivory products. Ivory belongs on the faces of elephants and rhinos, not on tchotchke shelves and certainly not in the warehouses of poachers. Sources say that the world's wild elephant population has decreased by 70% in the last ten years at the hands of poachers who sell the tusks illegally. That is an unsustainable rate to be certain. Just think about it -- elephants could be extinct before this decade is through and for no other reason than to satisfy the despicable demands of human selfishness and greed. I could write an entire blog post on that subject alone, but I think you get the picture. I guess I'll just end this blog post now, before I move on to the subject of Shark Fin Soup...

"Let those who love the Lord hate evil,
for he guards the lives of his faithful ones
and delivers them from the hand
of the wicked."

~Psalm 97:10