Red Hot Chile Peppers

He used to bring me flowers. Now he brings me chile peppers.

Harvest in Hatch, New Mexico coincides with my husband’s annual Northwoods-to-Desert journey, and in the past few years, he’s always made a stop in this quaint Southwestern village. Hatch is known as the “Chile Capital of the World.” There he picks out the longest, reddest ristras he can find, strikes a deal with the vendor, and then finds room in his packed vehicle to bring them home.

Ristras are a collection of chile peppers tied to a string and hang vertically. Traditionally they were hung this way to dry and then used for cooking.  Today, however, many southwestern homes also feature them at their entrances to welcome visitors and “bring good fortune to those living within.”

This year’s ristras are as tall as our 13-year-old (about 64”) and redder than a Santa cap. We’ve hung them at our courtyard gate, and on either side of the backyard kiva fireplace. They should last through the winter and we’ll watch as they slowly turn to a deeper shade of red or maroon, and cheerfully welcome all who enter our home.

It’s good to have our family all together in one place once again.

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