Echinocactus (2014)

PhotoBy Chris Deem (March 2014)

The cool evening breeze was accompanied by a calm feeling of serenity. The sky was scattered pink and deep blue. Golden rays leapt above the horizon. A small brown rabbit hopped about impatiently while looking over the dry meager soil. Hunger it seemed, could overpower her caution, as it did now. She set her sight on a lone grey-green cactus.

It was small, small enough. As she approached it, however, something caused her to hesitate. She looked away from the cactus and instead chewed on some dry grass. That was when she must have heard the indistinct sound above her. She froze. Her heart must have been racing, but she remained motionless.

There was no cover for the terrified rabbit. There was nothing, only the small cactus.

On a branch of a drought-worn tree, a golden eagle flexed his right talons, causing small bits of bark to fall. He was a large, mature male. He was dark and silent. He stared at the rabbit for some moments as the golden feathers at his nape flashed like the rays above the horizon. Then he did a curious thing; he just flew away.

It was a curious thing, but for some moments, it felt like peace. I suppose, as soon as tomorrow, that rabbit will probably chew up another cactus, and that eagle will find his taste for rabbit has returned.

If what I read is true, there are only six species of Echinocactus. The species most often seen for sale would have to be E. grusonii. The cactus featured in this story, however, is called the “eagle’s claw” or Echinocactus horizonthalonius.

With its thick, grayish spines on its blue-green or gray-green stem, it is a handsome plant. When it is flowering, its feminine pink blossoms are an unexpected, incongruous delight.