Last fall my walking partner and I discovered a row of these adorable ornamental peppers neatly planted in the garden of our favorite latte shop. We ooo-ed and ah-ed every morning we passed their yellow, red and purple fruit that, combined with the new chill in the air, seemed to remind us of little Christmas lights. We vowed to find these cool plants next spring and plant them in our yards.
We did find them, as you can see, and I smile every time I go up or down my steps ever since. I've been enjoying the hardy happy peppers - to look at, that is, not to eat. Because I consider them ornamental plants, not food sources. I had no idea whether these were hot, sweet, poisonous. And I didn't care.
I have a lot of experience with Steph's antics and silly, devil-may-care attitude. Don't get me wrong, she is reverant in the right places, but she is also wacky at times. You never really know what she'll do. Like the time she decided to jump off my porch in galoshes because someone dared her and she broke her hip at the growth plate and has forever one leg shorter than the other. Ginny, who was with her, ran home and cried to her mother, "We need a doctor! We need a doctor! Stephie's hurt and we need a doctor!" Her mom replied, "I'm sure she's okay and we don't need a doctor," and Ginny blurted, "Then we need a nurse, 'cause Stephie's really hurt!" She was carried off in an ambulance and spent the rest of the year in a body cast. She rode up and down the neighborhood laying on a skateboard thing that her grandfather made her. Crossed streets, went to visit friends, whatever it took. As a child, the boro police often brought her home because they were worried about her roaming, but that's a whole other chapter of Life and Times on Simpson Avenue with Stephanie and we will not open that now.
So, after a long weekend with Steph and her hubby and four kids, we took a bunch of pictures out in the yard (which the teenagers LOVED, by the way) and then her kids packed into their rented van with Vermont plates and the family waited while Steph performed one more antic for the road.
"Hey Jen," she said, "these peppers are really sweet! Do you eat them?"
"No, they're ornamental."
"But you can eat them! I have! They're sweet!" She ripped one off the bush just like we were 3 and 5 again swallowing the little red berries off the sticker bushes in my front yard. She bit the red fruit and again announced, "They're sweet! You can eat them!"
We all looked on. The Vermont van full of Utah-ians in New Jersey looked on, bored, waiting. Then she ripped into it again but this time she bit closer to the stem, where all the seeds were.
Her voice changed from excited to fearful. Her eyes grew wide. "Uh oh. I think these are hot.....Oooohhh, they ARE!!" She spit out the seeds on my basil and tomato plants below and headed for the car, waving at her mouth, laughing and crying at once. The Utah people yelled at her to get in. They didn't care. The New Jersey people didn't know what to say but "Good bye and Good luck wid dat."
Some time later I got a text: It took a good half hour for my mouth to stop hurting!