Friday, October 23, 2009

Hand-Colored Cactus Postcards

Desert Prickly Pear, originally uploaded by Thee E. Aldriches.

rainbow cactus in bloom

The third section of T.S. Eliot's poem "The Hollow Men" reads:

This is the dead land
This is cactus land
Here the stone images
Are raised, here they receive
The supplication of a dead man's hand
Under the twinkle of a fading star.

Later, he goes on to replace the mulberry bush from the children's nursery rhyme with a prickly pear:

Here we go round the prickly pear
Prickly pear prickly pear
Here we go round the prickly pear
At five o'clock in the morning.

Well, Mr. Eliot obviously had the wrong idea about the desert. We desert dwellers know that, though it may be arid, the "cactus land" is by no means a "dead land."

I might also add that I feel just find going "'round the prickly pear." They grow beautiful flowers and produce delicious fruit, often called cactus figs. You can also eat the the leaf pads. They're called nopales and they taste kind of like mild asparagus. They taste great grilled with some salsa. If you're backpacking in the desert, cactus fruit, and particularly the ubiquitous nopales, can round out your meal and you don't have to carry them. They're around all year, too!

The first postcard shows a prickly pear. The reverse reads "A Desert Bouquet (Prickly Pear Cactus). It notes that it is hand-colored and sold in El Paso. The front notes that it is from 1925. The second post card is a rainbow cactus. We have one of these in our yard and it's very pretty. The reverse reads: "Rainbow Cactus in Bloom Roosevelt Arizona." This one was sold in Roosevelt, AZ. The Albertype Co. in Brooklyn, New York published both postcards.

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