Cactus Flower

My prickly pear cactus bloomed today. It’s always such a treat to see those lovely blossoms, and the main reason I never got rid of the plant.

I transplanted the cactus from my neighbor’s yard (at her urging) when I first got here because they don’t need to be taken care of. That was back when my idea was to make a care-free yard, so that as I grew older, it could take care of itself and still look passable. I gave up on that idea last year when I had the lawn put in. It was supposed to be a small lawn, just for a bit of green, but I bought the leftovers from a project the local landscapers did, in the hopes that it would be enough for what I wanted. Instead, it covered half my yard! And then there were all the flowers and plants I couldn’t resist, so now I have a yard that is far from care-free.

Even the areas filled with gravel aren’t as care-free as I’d expected. There’s always some sort of cleanup such as weed picking or leaf blowing, but at least it doesn’t have to be watered and mowed.

The cactus doesn’t really fit with the rest of my yard, though it is rather a point of interest. Still, if it weren’t for those elusive flowers, I’d probably get rid of it. It’s a vicious thing. Well, perhaps not vicious. Maybe it just wants to be left alone. Those huge thorn-like prickers say “stay away” loud and clear! If those prickers were the only problem, there wouldn’t be a problem, even if one were to ignore the warning and clear away weeds, because those spines are big and easy to see. The problem is with the tiny hair-like barbs (glochids). You don’t even have to touch the prickly pear cactus to be nailed with glochids; they can attach to a person who’s just in the vicinity of the plant. And ow! Do those things hurt! They are so tiny, they are almost impossible to see, and yet you have to get rid of them or they will cause additional problems. (I just read that if they get in your eye, they can cause blindness. Yikes.)

I have been able to tweeze the glochids out of my skin, and when that doesn’t work, masking tape will.

Every time I have an issue with the glochids, I think I should get rid of the plant, but I don’t see how to dig it up without getting hurt. I wear gloves, of course, but the glochids get inside the gloves, making them impossible to wear. So I put it off, and put it off, and then one day, like today, the cactus blooms, and it all seems sort of worthwhile.

There should be a life lesson in this, a moral of some sort. That even if you can avoid the obvious prickles of life, the small, unseen problems can do you in, but in the end, it’s all worth it.

Well, maybe not.

Still, it is a gorgeous bloom.


Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator.

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