Friday, May 15, 2009
I’ve always thought prickly pears were ugly. Ugggllyy! Funny-looking, cactus-like plants, growing where cacti aren’t welcome. Usually kind of bent and worn looking, like random animals and perhaps a truck or two have run over them.
And people around here seem to love them. I guess they’re easy enough to grow, so people stick them in the ground where-ever they have a corner that’s too sunny and hot and difficult to water for anything else.
I remembered seeing prickly pears occasionally in Missouri as well, so I did a little research. Apparently prickly pears are one of only a few cold-tolerant cacti; some species are found as far north as British Columbia! Weird.
When we lived here before I don’t remember seeing the prickly pears do anything very interesting. They just sat there in people’s yards and off in the brush looking bent and neglected. But a couple of weeks ago while I was taking one of my neighborhood walks I noticed that the prickly pears were doing something unusual. They were blooming! Bright yellow flowers were sprouting on the tips of their cactus-like stumps and red bulbs started appearing after the flowers fell off. Not only that, but new, green, PRETTY growth was appearing on the tips of the pears. What was going on?
Austin has been in the midst of a drought most of this year and last. We moved back about the time that the drought broke, but it’s still very dry and the lakes and rivers are very low. Maybe the prickly pears are reacting to the extreme lack of water, followed by a wetter period. Maybe the pears thought – make flowers and grow while we can!
For around a week I’ve been saying to myself that I should take my camera when I go for a walk around the neighborhood so that I could take pictures of the developing blooming prickly pears and the other beautiful yards and gardens in the neighborhood. So far I haven’t remembered to do that, but I have been periodically throwing my camera in my purse like I used to do in Hong Kong. So, the other day when I ate lunch at Whole Foods I was in for a surprise.
It was pretty nice outside so I decided to go up and eat on their rooftop. I know that sounds strange, but Austin is the “world headquarters” for Whole Foods and their store here is like a Disneyland for foodies. Their café is huge and includes a nice outdoor seating area and the above-mentioned rooftop as well. So up I went.
What should I see to my surprise but a whole garden of prickly pears, all in bloom! It was rather over-whelming and very beautiful. Of course here was my opportunity for prickly-pear pictures and I took advantage of that.
In Hong Kong I kept my camera with me because I never knew what strange and interesting sight I would run across. Here in Austin I’m not sure yet what I might run into. So far I’ve run into prickly pears. Well. That’s a start!