Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Beautiful This Time of Year

I spent the Memorial Day weekend at The Last Stop and I don't think I've ever seen it look more beautiful. Everything is so green and glowing. Knowing that the Texas heat of summer will wither everything to a crunchy brown seems impossible when it is all so alive right now.

I took lots of pictures of the wild flowers, trees and the scenes I want to remember. Here are a few from the prickly pear collection.

There is something poetic about the prickly pear cactus to me. The stickers are torture. Not the big, obvious stickers, but rather those tiny, needly, hair-like ones that pierce any piece of clothing and burrow their way into your skin, becoming impossible to retrieve. Contrast that diabolical defense mechanism with the beautiful, soft, bright flowers they produce for a few weeks during the spring and you just have to forgive them for trying to kill you earlier. It's amazing that the cows can eat these things and not fall on the ground in writhing pain when their tongues become pin cushions.

I just love how the flower bud is pink and as it starts to emerge it looks orange and when it burts open it is the brightest neon yellow.

The pods that stay behind once the flowers fade are called tuna. This is the part of the plant with which you can make prickly pear jelly. Mom and I have both made batches of this before and you just wait...your rotation on the Christmas gift list is coming when you, too, will receive this little jar of Last Stop crimson goodness.

A little trivia...if you're a fan of the Greater Tuna plays, that name comes from the tuna on the cactus.

To see more of these rustic beauties, I have a collection set up on Flickr.

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