April 18, 2020
I like cacti more than I ever liked flowers. That hasn’t always been the case. When I was growing up in Kansas the only cactus around was the prickly pear. These hardy little plants were found mostly in the more arid parts of the state. They had lobe like pads that kept low to the ground and spread out in patches. I’d often come upon them while walking and if they were present, invariably step on or brush against one and get their spinney little thorns in me. It seemed to take days before you could get them out of your skin.
When I moved to Utah, I encountered an entirely different set of Cacti. The Sonoran Desert had many different varieties, and some like the saguaro cactus rose majestically into the air. My little prickly pears were there as well yet transformed into large masses that lifted five or six feet above the ground. The early missions of California gave me another perspective on cacti. These groupings had been planted to keep livestock from roaming and had been growing in place for over 400 years. It was in California that I began to cultivate my own cactus garden. Since I was renting, I planted them in increasingly larger clay pots. I brought six of my favorite pots with me when I moved to Kansas, including one I’d grown from about four inches to nearly two and a half feet tall (I annually decorated this as my Christmas tree). Sadly, Kansas winters are much different than California. They all died the first year.
Melissa knows of my love of cacti and their cousins the succulents. She has heard stories of especially my Christmas tree cactus since we first met. We have tried growing real Christmas cactus indoors several times but with little luck. They all died. Imagine my surprise when Melissa came home from a food run with a dozen small succulents. Several days later more boxes of succulent starts showed up on the front porch. Melissa surprised me by determining to create our own succulent garden in both clay pots (able to bring inside in the winter) and plantings in the ground. I admit, I like succulents as much as I do cacti, and they don’t have thorns.
THOUGHTS: There are many times in life where I find myself getting too close and end up catching the thorns. This causes me to back away and I spend weeks trying to get the hurt out. Other times I find exactly what I want and nurture it. Then for some reason the circumstances change, and my joy is lost. I can try and rebuild what I once had but that generally hasn’t worked well for me. An alternative is move in a new direction. Instead of recapturing the past I can create something entirely different. That’s been my experience with cacti and now succulents. It has also been true with experiences in life. If it is possible, Stay home. Stay safe.