This afternoon, I collected all of the hot peppers I’ve dried over winter to harvest seed for the upcoming season. Several of the peppers had rotted toward the center. I threw those out. Others rattled so perfectly, I decided to save them for the sheer joy of listening some rainy day this spring. The rest I cracked open and then proceeded to remove the seeds, with my bare fingers. I had forgotten what, no doubt, our ancestors (and all skilled seed savers) would have remembered: Hot pepper seeds are HOT.
And so, oblivious to the fiery pepper dust coating my calloused fingertips, I scratched my nose, then rub my right eyelid. Within moments I was rushing to the bathroom with burning eyeballs and a numb upper lip, convinced my nose was bleeding fire.
Next time, I’ll remember to wear gloves.