My brother, Joel, and I are going to camping soon. All the North Carolina state parks were booked up, so we reserved a campsite at a park in Virginia. Earlier this week I got an email alert from the park about a burn ban, reflecting how dry this part of the country has been. So no campfire conversations.
Here at home, our cars have been perpetually coated in dust from the gravel road, and I’ve worried about all the fallen leaves and dry branches in the woods around our house.
Today, though, it’s finally raining in Chapel Hill, a nice steady light rain. I’d just sat down on the deck with the NYTimes travel section—a 52 Places essay about Marseilles mentions nearby Calanques National Park and Cassis, where Erin and I celebrated our twentieth anniversary a few years ago—and a cup of Yunnan tea when the first drops fell. The white ginger lily at the base of the deck seemed to perk up immediately, the fragrant white flowers spreading for the moisture.
I retreated to the kitchen to prepare habanero hot sauce. Our garden has been abundant these last weeks, and each evening I’ve come home from work to pick cayenne and roselle and heirloom tomatoes, and the orange habanero. I donned gloves to take out the seeds, then layered chopped onion and yellow pepper and fresh pineapple and torn habanero inside the fermentation crock. I purchased this crock two years ago from the Duke Arts Health Network holiday sale that features pottery and jewelry and other items from local artisans. The crock has been up on a shelf, and I was embarrassed to have not used it yet. It’s full now, the lid on and water in the moat, sitting on the counter next to the cocktail cherries and cherry pit-infused vinegars from this summer.
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