Echinomastus intertextus (2015)

PhotoBy Chris Deem (March 2015)

It had been an early spring snowstorm, unexpected and fleeting. Everywhere, the vast landscape was covered by a blanket of white crystals, soft as talc. The unblemished snow had been like the stolen moments of semi-conscious sleep after the alarm clock sounded, as one chose to face the day or to dream on. It couldn’t last.

I think back to yesterday, when a cream-colored basket woven from the stems of grasslike rushes was trapped in a snowdrift. Now, once again, the basket tumbles free.

On this day, a soft embrace of warmth and the sparkling sunlight seem to dance in a swirling breeze. The basket rolls, to and fro, over patches of green and over the woven spines of several small cacti that also can be seen.

Atop these woven cacti, the melting snow reveals a mystery. A scattering of wet, white flowers, some tinged pink, are strewn across the greening landscape, yet no pollinators are seen. I feel, somehow, that deep questions should be pondered here. Yet I feel no need for answers, as I watch the basket tumble in the breeze.

As I watch I begin to wonder, was this basket once a precious possession, now lost? Yet, I don’t really need to know. It’s just another mystery, like the flowers in the snow.

The genus Echinomastus is a mystery. I try to give you truthful information, I really do. Sometimes it’s difficult. In the book The Cactus Family, I read that according to the International Cactaceae Systematics Group, Echinomastus species are really Sclerocactus. In this same book, however, a researcher named Porter seemed to have DNA proof showing the two genera had separate evolutionary paths.

Just who is right I could ponder, yet I don’t really need to know. It’s just another mystery, like the flowers in the snow.