Here in Sedona, front yards look a little different than they do back east:
I’ve been keeping my eye on these opuntia cactus–commonly known as prickly pear– and am finding specimens with paddles in shades of green, grey, pink, violet, and everything in between.
While taking one photograph, I got a little too close and a few minutes later realized that I had three spines inserted into my thigh. The spines had miniscule hooks that made it painful to pull them out.
There’s one animal that gets close enough to munch on the paddles for lunch. That’s the javelina, a wild pig-like peccary that roams among the red rocks. I saw this half-eaten paddle on a hike in Boynton Canyon. It distracted me for a moment from fretting about the growing encroachment of Enchantment Resort. If there weren’t huge red-rock castles in the way, the resort would probably spread out all the way to Phoenix.
Here’s an opuntia beginning to fruit. In these parts, cooks make jam from the ripe prickly pears. This variety doesn’t seem to have those lethal spines, but I suspect that special gloves are needed when handling the fruit. I hear it’s very labor intensive to make the jam.
These opuntias sure are gorgeous. Just don’t get too close.