Yesterday, a mysteriously pungent package awaited me when I returned home. I eagerly, carefully slit the tape and unfolded the damp cardboard flaps.

Inside I discovered a New Mexican ristra, a garland of tied-together fresh red chiles. A friend in my writing group lives near Santa Fe, and at her local farmers market she can buy all manner of local specialty: peppers, quelites (a native green) and so forth. Her favorite stand seems to be that run by Tony Gallegos and it was there that she bought this ristra for me. I am extremely flattered and excited. Her part of NM has received a ton of rain lately so the peppers haven't dried as much as they usually would. A few had begun to mold, and she suggested that I oven-dry them. I tried to untie them in such a way that they stayed intact because I hope to restring them; a few stems and seed bundles fell out, but I'll just use those first!

Cool, huh?!? Thank you!