I’m back after a sick weekend. I can call myself lucky that I got sick on the weekend, I guess. Sick days are a luxury I can’t afford. As much as they say, “Don’t go to work if you are sick!” they aren’t the one giving up 20% of a week’s salary. That’s one of the downsides of not having a job with benefits. Of course, whenever I’ve had jobs with benefits I rarely was able to take advantage of sick days anyway. I remember in my last year at the station being absolutely unable to talk or work and having to go to work because there was no one else to do it. I don’t know what they are doing these days when there is half (or less) the manpower that they had then.
I’ve been wanting to write about some of the gardening I did last weekend. I finally got a dead cactus cut down and sent off to the landfill. It broke my heart to say goodbye to that one. My plants can become just as much my pet as my animals can be (okay, not quite, the cactus doesn’t curl up and my feet night after night).
This tall pillar cactus had been with us since the summer we moved to Austin. It was a Home Depot $10 special with two cacti about a foot to 18 inches tall. At some point we transplanted it into a big pot and put it by the front door. Year after year that thing grew and grew. It was so big there was nothing to do about it in the winter except hope it survived.
The most amazing thing about it was the blooms this cactus could put out. It was several years before we knew it would even make a bloom. And no small bloom. Â Monster, saucer-sized blooms that only bloomed at night! We would see them coming, but we’d have to make sure and go out and see them while they were on display. Fortunately for us, we usually were coming home in the nighttime and got to admire them. They were only there for one night only and then they withered and died. One year I remember we counted 17 blooms through the summer. There were times I thought it was near death just because of the abundance of flowers. Plants tend to “push” a bloom and be extra prolific as they are dying as an evolutionary thing. But this cactus kept on going. Here it is, blooming, in about 2004:
You can see where it has a chunk missing. That was from a hailstorm we couldn’t protect it from. It continued to thrive after that. Last summer, with the terrible drought and the unbelievable heat, the cactus did not look good. I was afraid then that it was dying. With the hard freezes we had this winter, it did finally succumb. It was easily 8 feet tall, I think. It took a LOT of effort to remove it from the big pot (without destroying a great pot) and getting it into pieces small enough to get into the trash.
I do not have a green thumb like some in my family, but sometimes I look around and am in awe of the plants that we do have that have continued to thrive and grow and keep us company. Another trip to the Home Depot is in order to get another $10 special cactus and see where it might be in another 10 years.