Mammillaria parkinsonii (2015)

PhotoBy Chris Deem (October 2015)

The chill of late October holds firm in dank dominion. Somewhere in the distance, thunder rumbles. A cemetery, like all things, has its seasons.

The spring of this place is gone, as is its summer. Now the leaves fall on a cemetery in its autumn. There are no flowers, and emptiness has replaced the sadness of those who once mourned.

The writing on the cold stones could still be read, but not by the eyes of those who remain here. They neither read nor mourn. Their large eyes peer out from faces, pallid and spectral.

Eerie sounds are all around, and something is moving under the fallen leaves. A sound so faint it seems an echo breaks a sudden silence. It is a tiny cry with the desperate tone of a scream. Afterward, there is another sound, a cold snapping, like bones being broken. Do not look … there are no ghosts.

Sounds such as these can play tricks on the mind in this sad, forgotten place in autumn. Here in the darkness, there are only three small owls and the terrified rodents that remain.

I chose Mammillaria parkinsonii for October’s cactus species because it is called the “owl’s eye cactus.”

M. parkinsonii cacti can have either long or short, usually white spines. It is, however, the plants with short spines that look the most like owls. This illusion is produced by the species’ dichotomous growth. As it grows, it appears to have two large eyes in its illusionary owl face.

If you have this plant, please bring it to our meeting. It is “haunted October’s” plant of the month.