Every November, our friend Dolly, a neighboring rancher, gifts Bill with a hefty helping of habanero peppers--not the hottest peppers in the galaxy, but pretty durn hot (and certainly too hot for me). Bill halves them, dries them, and turns them to powder in his coffee grinder. When I pointed out that all the instructions I've read say to remove the seeds first, he just shook his head. "The seeds are the best part," he said. "They make it hotter." So here you have it, friends. Bill Albert's sure-fire habanero factory. You'll notice that the dryer is sitting on the deck. That's because these habaneros are hot enough to make my eyes tear and my nose run--even without tasting one. He's already planning on a couple of really hot (double the habanero) batches of Ruby Wilcox's Hot Lips Cookie Crisps.
Also hot stuff, weather-wise. After a couple of frosts in October and a freeze two weeks ago, we've been stuck in a warm pattern: in the 80s every day, sultry but no rain. A cold front is due in on Thursday, but there'll be a warming trend after that. And we're expecting a La Nina winter, which means that it will be warmer and drier than normal. Whatever normal is in this period of climate change.
But we're not alone in this trend toward hot, hotter, hottest. NOAA says that January-October here in the U.S. was the warmest such period on record. And so far, 19 countries (making up 20% of the planet's surface) experienced record-setting heat. You can see an interesting graphic here. And when I was a kid and the weather turned cold, we'd say "Cold as Siberia!" But even Siberia's permafrost isn't perma any longer. No doubt about it. Hot and getting hotter.
I wish it were as easy to return the climate to the temperate "norm" we all grew up with as it is to deal with these habaneros.
Update: 11/25/10. Today's record-setting temperature: 87 degrees. I had a dozen cabbage plants wintering-over in the garden. The grasshoppers finished them off. All of them.
Reading note. We have many advantages in the fight against global warming, but time is not one of them. Instead of idly debating the precise extent of global warming, or the precise timeline of global warming, we need to deal with the central facts of rising temperatures, rising waters, and all the endless troubles that global warming will bring. We stand warned by serious and credible scientists across the world that time is short and the dangers are great. The most relevant question now is whether our own government is equal to the challenge.--JOHN MCCAIN, speech, May 12, 2008