Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Looking for Spring in All the Wrong Places

Occasionally it's satisfying to imagine Spring is here even before the Winter rains have come and gone. These Opuntia (Prickly Pear) cactus flowers were growing last April in Bumble Bee, Arizona, a cross-roads where mine waste fights for recognition with junk cars and discarded drug paraphernalia.
But even though a friend opined that I had been in the sun too long because of some ideas I had, you often can get around the problem (bad ideas) with a broad-brimmed hat and SPF 30+ sun screen.  Cactus flowers love the sun and we go into their world with the bees, spiders and other pollinators if we want their photos.

Sometimes one of the most useful tools we can take with us on these ventures is a monopod with an attached ball head that steadies our cameras on the rocky slopes that cacti always seem to choose for home.  Don't tell anyone, but us seniors carry these things as much to get around as anything else.

One of my favorites is the Dusky Prickly Pear (above) which some guide books call "notoriously promiscuous" for coming to the party with tinges of red...a sure sign it has allowed a wayward pollinator around its stamens and stigma...and accepted exotic pollen into its genetic arsenal. 
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