Of Prickly Pear and Postage Stamps
Prickly pear plants are normally green. But the segment my mum came across is not, at least not anymore. To get to the beginning of this story, (which is the best place to start) we have to go back two full years ago. Although I suspect it was a bit before that, but can't be sure.
I have always been interested in weeds and herbs and natural uses for things, or the fact that some things are useless.... although most weeds are beneficial in at least some ways and many are surprising. For school I would photograph and collect a weed specimen and then look it up. I would press the specimen and put it on the opposite page to the one that I wrote all my findings about said 'weed' on.
One of the weeds I did was a Prickly Pear. Anyone who has had close contact with prickly pear will know a few things.
- Prickly pear is spiky and the spikes come in two sets of nastiness. The big long needle sized scary looking ones, and the tiny, silent and deadly, orangey coloured ones, that cluster in a fuzz around the base of each massive spike. (Seriously don't chuck one of these at someone's face even if you did take all the big spikes out.)
- It likes to hide among grass so that you mow over it (resulting in the stuff being spread everywhere and potentially going into the mower's tires) or step on it. (Once, in a friend's case, sit on it.....)
- It is impossible to remove. Even if time and time again you pull out the plant before it flowers, more will just appear as if from nowhere....the seeds can lie dormant for over 30 years, which is just n o t f a i r. (I have not lived long enough to hope to have destroyed the fiends)
- They have big flat-ish leaves/segments, but they are still around a cm thick! and FULL of juice, which is why apparently....
- You can eat them....if you are careful not to eat the spikes and are really, really hungry, which I have thankfully never been. A friend also tried this once and decided that they are not so good.
And so all those years ago I attempted to press a prickly pear segment. I remember changing the paper I was
attempting to press pressing it between so many times in an attempt to stop the plant from going moldy or growing, it actually had the audacity to try to grow!!! I put it under heavier and heavier books, and piles of books and a whole box of them. All the time being careful not to get the little spikes in me. I had removed with pliers the few large spikes so I did not have to deal with them.
Then I forgot about it. Mummy was sorting through the boxes of books near my desk and found an odd pile of what looked like scrap paper under one. She flicked through it and asked if I knew what it was from and then we found the now flat Mr Prickly Pear. After two years I had squished him! But of course I can't find the folder of weed information I collected anymore.
Mr Prickly Pear had not enjoyed his stay, forgotten under the box of flattening books. He wanted revenge. I handled him very carefully.... until.. halfway though taking photos.... And found that about six of his miniature spikes had attached themselves to my finger. Annoyingly by the time I had taken the photos and went to remove them they had removed themselves, but it is ok I found them later....... One jabbed itself into a different finger and got nicely lodged there, (making tweezers and a mother necessary.) But I suspect the little spikes had all jumped onto my skirt from which they planned to attack me one by one. But I realized where they were hiding and going outside shook them all away.... hopefully.
So that is the end of the adventures of Mr Prickly Pear, at least for now. But I mentioned postage stamps..... and they have nothing all all to do with Mr Prickly Pear or his spiky minions.
But anyway the thing is that the price of postage has gone up yet again..... and we do not have the right stamps to make up the right amount so when my dad wanted to post a letter the other day, what came first as a joke ended up turning into reality... well take a look at the photo. We debated a while first, and laughed, and then decided that since half of 70c plus a whole 70c stamp was over enough they could not complain too much about us cutting a stamp in half.... hopefully. So we posted the letter.
Have you ever met a prickly pear before?
Or pressed plants or flowers or cut them in half????