Back in August, I went to Bill’s Farm Market up here in search of red bell peppers. There weren’t any in Bill’s bins, so I asked after them. Won’t be for a good month, Bill said. You can go out in the fields and take some pictures then. He knows me by now. So I went back last week and saw an avalanche of red peppers in the market along with the avalanche of people. It was so busy Bill himself was manning the cash register. I hesitated to ask him if he would show me to the peppers, but I did anyway. It’s out by the back barn, that way, he said, pointing. Feel free.

When I pulled up to the barn, there was a truck there, parked out along the rows of vegetables. Two men were picking. They looked up at me with curiosity, with a protectiveness for their field, and I told them Bill said I could take some pictures. They still looked at me curiously and I wasn’t sure if they didn’t hear me, didn’t understand me, or just thought it was all very strange in general, so I shouted, Bill said OK! Then they looked at each other and went back to work. The shots of the peppers were fine, but these guys were more interesting, picking in swift motion against a backdrop of green farmland, blue sky, and red truck.

It all fit together for me in the end, the beautiful scene felt so…ripe. Ripe red peppers (and yellow, and orange) are such happy vegetables, as happy as a ripe peach. Their tops are so pretty I like to slice them off and line my pickling, my mouneh, jars with them, facing out for effect.

It must be the plumpness of peppers that gets me. They’re jolly. They’re friendly. They’re welcoming. Yet tomorrow we’re going to take the plump right out of them for other—delicious—purposes. Bill said OK to that too, so I don’t think they mind one bit.

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