I don’t know if you saw but one day last week was National Middle Child Day. We seem to have a need to designate every single day of the year as national something-or-other day, and Thursday last was the one for middle children, giving those of us stuck between the oldest and youngest a little recognition. A pat on the back, if you will.

I mean, the firstborn is always the leader and the role model, while the youngest one is always considered the baby of the family, therefore leaving us in the middle without a special role. You know, like Jan in the Brady Bunch, we’re not first and not last.

Just there. A placeholder. Ho-hum.

Here’s something though, one study says middle children are more artistic and creative. I don’t know the implications of that in the whole sibling rivalry construct, but there you have it.

Anyway, this particular middle kid is thinking of taking off and doing something illogical but fun. School is back and the weather is not as sweltering, and in a state that has more than its share of cool places and the best cuisine anywhere, it seemed like a good time to take a road trip.

Might be a fun way to spend some of my time off, since I essentially have no hobbies to speak of. Nowadays my favorite hobby is something I call “deciding.” That is, I’ll spend hours clicking my remote… “deciding” what to watch next, and before you know it, it’s already bedtime.

But when it comes to a real hobby, between you and me, I’m still considering metal detecting as a hobby. Who knows, one day you may spot me out there, sweeping the ground along the Jornado del Muerto with one of those metal detector gizmos, looking for gold jewelry or trinkets that might have been dropped by one of the Spanish army men along the way. Or not.

Anyway, up and down the middle Rio Grande valley they’re bringing in that luscious green fruit, and like a cartoon character sniffing the air, I’m virtually lifted off the ground floating in the direction of the nearest chile roaster. Sort of.

My first experience with the “green” was in 1989 when I moved to Santa Fe and had my first taste of huevos rancheros with green chile at Maria’s on Cordova Road. It was love at first taste. Both sweet and hot.

Ever since then I’ve learned that green chile – from hot to mild – improved everything but deserts. But wait…there’s also green chile jelly. And chile cocoa. And…and…and …  We add chile to scrambled eggs, soups and stews, hamburgers, pizza toppings, and of course burritos of all types.

There’s nothing that makes one feel more confident than having at least a one-year supply of peeled and chopped green chile in the freezer. I prefer the Big Jim variety, a medium-hot chile. Or a milder variety like Joe Parkers, and sometimes a hotter one like Sandia.

Speaking of “how hot is it” there’s a scale that ranks chiles and peppers. What Charles Richter is to earthquakes, Wilbur Scoville is to chiles. One time I was talking to a chile expert from NMSU who said the Chile Pepper Institute down there often gets requests to certify the world’s hottest pepper, rated on the Scoville Heat Scale.

He told me the Trinidad Maruga Scorpion pepper plant was rated at 2 million Scoville Heat Units and was the world’s hottest. To put that into perspective, an average Sandia is 7-9,000 SHUs, and Barkers average 25,000 SHUs. In the lower heat category, Joe Parkers are only 4,000 SHUs.

No matter what the heat level is, what makes those little fellas so agreeable to us mortals besides the flavor is the euphoria it produces after the burn subsides. The theory is that the burning produced by the release of the capsaicinoids triggers endorphins, the “happiness” hormone. Not only that, chiles are good for what ails you, from sinus headaches to cold feet. Some claim it’s used to treat various cancers, weight loss, diabetes prevention and management, cluster headaches, skin disorders, respiratory diseases, digestive ailments, and on and on. In fact, the ancient Mayas used chile to treat coughs and sore throats. It stimulates gastric juices and the organs to aid in digestion and flush out illness more quickly. Creams made from chile are made to treat joint pain from arthritis and pain from shingles.

Not being an ancient Mayan, I can’t attest to all those claims and clearly, I’m not a physician, and I don’t think chile is going to fix my hypothyroidism, but I’m having some Christmas anyway.

Just ‘cause.