Saturday Morning

My desert cactus has five spindly branches spread untidily in the pot. Each time I water that cactus I wonder why. I see no progress in how it looks; I water it all the same along with the other potted plants around it. It maintains a nonchalant brownish, greenish, and trace of yellow that appears anemic, as if on the verge of turning brown all over and withering up, if not for my regular water. Once afternoon, I pass it and what catches my eye makes me stop in my tracks and look again at the source of that stimulus. There on the end of one of the five tentacles of the cactus is an enormous flower, yellow with dozens of bristling stamens, and layers inside like a catacomb in miniature. I take photos with my phone, I call everyone from the house to come and see the miracle of a flower where I thought no such thing could occur. Thank goodness I kept watering that cactus after I dismissed it as ugly and unproductive or at least unresponsive to my care of it. The cactus flower proves me wrong. Nothing else in the garden comes near that flower’s majesty. By evening it shrivels and lies limp on the end of the thin branch of cactus. Next morning I give it an extra drink and apologize to it, and encourage my dear, ugly, surprising cactus to keep on doing whatever it does and to ignore me.

—  Fred D’Aguiar, Year of Plagues: A Memoir of 2020 (Harper, August 3, 2021)


Photo: Mike Grant, Desert Bloom, Phoenix, AZ

Comments

  1. And then there are those of us who (with reason..) don’t even trust cacti to remain alive under our watch — we buy a fake one. And I don’t know why!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I have a barrel cactus that blooms a ring of little red flowers like the ones in the picture. No one was more surprised the first time they came through (two years ago)!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. And the moral of the story – don’t dismiss the unattractive, for there may be a hidden trove of beauty

    Liked by 1 person

  4. so lovely

    Liked by 1 person

  5. The orchid by my kitchen window is the same. It flowers. Drops everything. Stands there are withered and shrivelled up looking and then…. Miracle. All of it.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. So, never give up in the interest of life and beauty and willingness to be surprised! Regarding any walk tomorrow, DK, maybe just opening your front door may be enough…the forecast near the water: “85 mph winds and a storm surge of three to five feet.”

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Reblogged this on It Is What It Is and commented:
    Awesome desert cactus … “Next morning I give it an extra drink and apologize to it, and encourage my dear, ugly, surprising cactus to keep on doing whatever it does and to ignore me.” — Fred D’Aguiar, Year of Plagues: A Memoir of 2020 (Harper, August 3, 2021).

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I have a cactus that my father bought for me nearly seventy years ago, so odd, the important attachments in our lives.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Such a beautiful reminder to see this cactus in each other.

    ‘And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.’
    Roald Dahl

    Liked by 1 person

  10. we have a variety of cactus and succulents…so easy to propagate…love it when they bloom, the cactus bloom in red, orange and yellow defendant on the variety & love it when the succulents produce babies…never the succulents or cactus do not like to be over-watered!!!they start to die…sometimes we leave them in a protect area outside under cover and keep a close eye on them… other times, we bring all the terracotta pots holding the cactus inside during the winter…

    Liked by 1 person

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