Thursday, November 29, 2007

Christmas Cactus

Like many Americans, I own a Christmas cactus. Christmas cacti, as you may or may not know, are called that because they are supposed to bloom at Christmas. They're kind of droopy things with lots of arms and mine was happiest when it was sitting in water all the time, which I discovered by accident, but whatever. Anyway, my cactus, defiant of social norms and the tyranny imposed by its name, blooms more or less randomly all year round, or, that is, it did. Until Django ate it. Well, of course. Django has a thing for cacti. Last spring he ate all these wonderful funky cacti (do you know, while writing that I actually almost just spelled funky funki? Yeah. I did. ) that my friend C gave me for New Years about 5 years ago. They were just leaves in a manila envelope with a note on them that said, stick them in the dirt and water them occasionally and prepare to be surprised and I was, since they grew like crazy and even, in the old house, grew into, through and around the lace curtains like something out of a very slow horror movie. Django dug them up and scattered them around the yard last spring and I rescued them and stuck them back in the dirt and they thrived all summer, shooting out improbable leaves until I finally killed them stone dead by totally forgetting their existence through three days of hard freeze in October. For which I feel terrible guilt but this post is not about those cacti. This post is about the Christmas cacti.

I moved the Christmas cacti indoors in time since it lives with the 7' palm tree, which, by virtue of its being in the front of the house instead of the back, I did not forget in October. The palm tree began life with me as a 7" tall version in a group of plants given to me as a housewarming present when I first moved to Asheville and now, 7 1/2 years later, it's huge and has children. I lug it in and out of the house every winter. It's a bit stalky at the bottom, so I added the Christmas cactus, in its glass bowl of water, to the pot and this arrangement seemed to suit them both until, that is, I brought it into the house and created temptation. Django, you see, likes to dig. He feels that the only reason I could possibly have a giant pot full of dirt in the den is to allow him to dig in the comfort and warmth of the den and allow him, thus, easy access to his other favorite hobby, shredding the couch. Django is, by and large, pleased with his life. So he dug up the Christmas cactus, which was, in its inimitable, schedule free way, just getting ready to bloom like crazy. It blooms in hot pink, too and I love it when it's in flower. So I was sad. I was furious.

I yelled at the dog and took a few not totally maimed arms of cactus and stuck them in a blue champagne flute full of water and stuck that in the kitchen window next to the cutting from the plant that my zen guru therapist gave me to help me learn what right and good feels like (and that worked, too, man, I am telling you, it worked and you do know in your very bones and gut and skin and other somewhat eeky stuff when things are right and good, go figure) and pulled the curtain over the both of them (literally. Not metaphorically.) and forgot about them until last night, when I peeked.

To find the Christmas cactus fragments wildly, improbably, insanely in full bloom. Something about this story makes me happy and I hope it does you too. Because apparently you can be dug up by dogs and ignored and scuffed around on the carpet and even chewed, but, hey, given the right kind of water, you can still bloom.


Kelly said...

That is a lovely story. Also, funki cacti. Had to see it spelled out. Awesome.

Jeremy said...

Nice post, Felicity. Have a wonderful weekend!