Growth

A baby Naga chile—the world’s hottest—hangs from a plant in a Wisconsin garden on the edge of Pewaukee Lake.

And so the Boulder life begins. The week passed in a gust of activity—I’ve been packing, planning, meeting and “orientating.” Picking classes, touring the library. Setting up my new computer and phone. I’ve discovered a treasure in the government and international organization stacks of the Norlin Library—acres of shelving (actual books!) devoted to water, agriculture and natural resource studies conducted by various agencies around the globe. And I’ve learned exceptionally easy ways of searching the library’s online databases by country. Classes begin Monday, the day my fellow Fellows and I “shop around” for the courses that will most benefit our projects and interests (and expand our minds). Just for fun, I’m thinking of ceramics. And maybe a little intro to Chinese or Arabic…. I’ll keep you posted on what I find.

Meanwhile, let me point you to growth of another kind: pictured above is the first fruit of the plant that grew from the Naga chile seeds I had given my brother-in-law. He started the seeds indoors, in the cold spring months of Wisconsin. When we visited two weeks ago, we saw the plant rooted in soil, in John’s garden along the shores of Pewaukee Lake. Though flooding destroyed tomatoes and other plants earlier this summer, the chile remained intact.

And that’s it! No mistake. I saw that wrinkled skin and instantly knew it was a Naga. A while back, I corresponded with a chef who thought he had planted these chiles, starting from seeds he had ordered. But when I saw the pictures, I knew they weren’t Nagas (which are also known by the names bhut jolokia and Raja). A genuine Naga looks precisely as the chile pictured above. It will grow a bit bigger and turn an orange-red. And it should set the mouth on fire with the teensiest bite.

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