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This morning, I watched as my dog carefully excavated
a small space in the cool dirt next to one of my Chile
Pequin plants. She worked diligently until she was
satisfied, and quickly proceeded to sleep in the shade
of the pepper plant for an hour. The plant is quite
resilient, and like the six others in my yard, along with
multiple fruit bearing trees and other plants, the tops
froze in the unexpected storm in February, aka the Great Texas Snowpocalypse. Now they are growing back, flourishing, especially with the nonstop rains earlier this month that left my yard flooded, and me trudging through water halfway up the calves of my legs.
Was I prepared to deal with no power or water for days on end? Yes, and no. Are there things I am doing now to stay better prepared, especially as we move into hurricane season and the oppressive heat? Absolutely. As I sat editing this, I had an alert that the residents of the Texas were asked to limit electrical usage as the demand is expected to outpace capacity. I’ll spare you the details, but suffice to say, the state is sorely lacking when it comes to renewable energy resources and qualified leadership.
Like the Chile Pequin, one must be resilient. As a child, I slept on the hardwood floor in the summer more often than I did in a bed because it was cooler. We didn’t run an air conditioner, and even then, the heat could be brutal. My parents eventually relented and put in an HVAC system, long after I had moved away, although they were stringent with its use. In their house, as well as my grandparents’ homes, lights were only used when needed and only when someone was in the room. The grass in the yard was watered when it rained, with extra water caught in five-gallon buckets to use in the garden.
Being resilient includes adapting to your surroundings and your circumstances. In my opinion it is equally important to be consciously aware of my carbon footprint, and I continue to follow what I was taught. Along with the basics, like only using lights when needed, I keep my thermostat set at 78 and use ceiling fans to circulate the air. I’ve switched out the standard light bulbs to LED bulbs that use less energy. I hand water my fruit trees and my small garden. My herbs and tomato plants are in pots in the shade, and I am growing small flats of micro-greens inside, to counter the triple digit heat that burns the lettuce. I recycle and reuse and frequent the farmers market for produce I don’t currently have in my garden because I like supporting the local farmers. I believe balancing resilience and responsibility lessens the footprint.
We are resilient. When faced with overwhelming odds, we prevail for what is right. When my son was small, I worked with him to understand how resilient skills improve our lives. Nurturing these skills, as one nurtures a plant damaged by weather, increases personal resilience. Positive relationships with friends and family builds a support system of connection and love. It’s vital to be flexible and willing to adapt to the circumstances. Learn the difference between proactive and reactive, and how to be assertive rather than passive or aggressive. Develop good communication skills, with a willingness to listen to others.
Think before you act if you are hurt or angry. Cultivate a positive mindset and be confident. Embrace your spiritual or religious beliefs and your culture. Do your best to see the bigger picture as opposed to focusing on the little things, or in other words, don’t sweat the small stuff. Laugh and smile often. Take care of yourself, be kind to yourself. Eat healthy, exercise, breathe and be prepared.
We must be resilient in protecting our culture and heritage, our land and water. Obstacles are a part of our lives, from persistent Karen’s and their counterparts, to environmental issues and climate change, politics and racism, greed and pettiness, poverty and homelessness, gender inequality, health care, immigration, violence against women and children, education, unemployment, voting rights without intimidation and so much more. Nonetheless, we must remain resilient to prevail.
As the Chile Pequin continues to grow, and the tiny peppers ripen, there will more than enough to share with family and friends, including the winged ones in my yard, who love them. Perhaps I will save a small amount of the peppers and make a bottle of hot pepper vinegar like my Papaw kept on the breakfast room table. It’s a simple, old style way of seasoning food, made with a half cup of white vinegar, heated on low heat on the stove until it begins to steam. Rinse a clean glass bottle with boiling water and add a half cup of the Chile Pequin peppers (de-stemmed) into the bottle, then pour the hot vinegar into the bottle using a funnel. Let it sit for a day before using. Wonderful on eggs, beans, or any food you want to add a little kick to. The bottle can be refilled with warmed vinegar multiple times before the flavor and bite diminishes.
Resilience, even with a tiny pepper, continues.