At home, she found the perfect sunny spot for her little gems. She gave them new homes nestled among the lillies, roses and herbs in the flower beds that line her yard (Willoughby always plants vegetables among the flowers, she likes the organic way it looks).
Every morning, Willoughby would carefully water her spicy, treasured plants. Sometimes, she would talk to them and encourage them to grow large, lovely peppers. They responded in kind by sprouting tiny white flowers and healthy green leaves.
As the days went by, the tiny flowers grew larger and began to sprout green baby peppers. It made Willoughby smile to think of all the wonderful dishes she would create when they were mature enough to be picked and roasted.
One day, when she went to check on them, Willoughby found that the lower leaves of several plants were missing. She looked under and around each plant, but found no signs of the missing leaves. They hadn't fallen off. It seemed that some furry creature, perhaps a rabbit or a squirrel, was helping himself to a little salad. Willoughby was worried, but she didn't know what to do. How could she protect her beloved plants from the four legged invaders?
Over time, more and more leaves disappeared. Willoughby felt sad, but she was encouraged that the baby peppers were still continuing to grow. One pepper, in fact, had become three or four inches long and was nearly ready to be picked. She decided she would pick the pepper the very next day.
Shortly after sunrise, Willoughby rushed out to the garden, anxious to harvest the fruits of her labors. She was relieved to find the pepper still hanging merrily on the plant. She was so happy, in fact, that she went back into the house to get her camera and take a picture of the pepper.
As she zoomed in on it, she noticed something she hadn't seen before. There was a hole, about the size of a pencil eraser, in the side of the pepper. Something, a bug or an animal, had eaten away at her one mature pepper. Willoughby was so angry, she picked the pepper and threw it out of the yard.
Since that day, the majority of the leaves and all of the baby peppers have disappeared. Willoughby has stopped making plans for spicy chicken enchiladas, pepper topped pizzas, roasted pepper burgers and dozens of other peppery, tasty dishes.
In an effort to turn this catastrophe into a learning experience, Willoughby did some research to find a way to repel the critters and creatures that destroyed her lovely pepper plants so she might avoid the same outcome next year. In a cruel irony, she found the one substance that deters unwelcome munchers. Hot pepper sauce.