"In every walk with nature one receives more than he seeks."
John Muir

Friday, May 27, 2011

Pretty Prickly

Growing wild all around Central Texas are Prickly Pear cacti.
They aren't very attractive, in my opinion.
And their spines are long and sharp.
Not something you want to get up close and personal with (and I know this from personal experience. So does poor Shoeless Joe.)

In the spring, odd-looking buds begin to swell and grow.

And then the most unlikely flowers begin to bloom .
This remarkable flower has sprouted on a dead cactus leaf.
The cycle of life displayed right here.

These blossoms are delicate, reminding me of the colorful crepe paper flowers my children used to make in school. They even are silky to touch.

After these bright and wonderful flowers are done attracting the bees,
they shrivel and drop off (the flowers, not the bees).
The "fruit" that is left behind grows plump and red later in the season.
This is the source of the delicious jelly.
The brave souls who use them in recipes must wear heavy gloves to protect their hands.

The lovely flowers are a floral oxymoron.

Philosophically, the lesson of the prickly pear and the blossom is much like my mother's lesson, "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade."
The cactus alone is painful and not pretty yet the delicate flower is stunning.
We, too, can choose how to react to life--
we can be sharp and nasty or soft and appealing,
keeping people at a distance or attracting them to us.
I choose to be the flower, what about you?

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