Prickling Pears

Persistence • Watercolor Painting Original • Karen Hilliard Art

While walking along the streets of Sedona, Arizona, my husband and I happened upon some lovely beavertail cactus. Sitting around the edges of each paddle were an incredible amount of prickling pear. These fruit are hard and hearty until they fall off fully soft and ripened. They range in color from green to red and last a purple or dark red hue when ready to be eaten. Several of these lovely fruits were laying on the ground along the sidewalk edge. We decided to pick some and took them back to our timeshare. This whole trip was wonderful because the timeshare was gifted to us by loved ones and the fruit was a gift as well. When cleaning the outside of a prickling pear, one needs to be very careful. They have tiny clear pins or needles all over their skin as a protective layer. This reminds me of my post last week including desert tortoises and wondering how powerful their mouths are to not only bite cactus paddles but eat the fruit as well. Simply, a fascinating creature. After we got all the spines off, Chris doing most of the work, that is, then we ate and enjoyed the delicious juiciness of the pears. They were a lot of hard work and worth every stab of the needles. I was still pulling clear pins out of him after we finished eating. It was intense, he kept saying, “here’s another one,” so be prepared!

When we returned home to Las Vegas, we were fortunate to find some beavertail cactus paddles on our walk. Our neighbor was trimming his plant and we happened to find a paddle laying on the ground drying out. Chris carried it all the way home with his bare hand!! This cactus paddle had very sharp needles. We let it dry for weeks, maybe a month, then planted it. Today, we have a beautiful cactus plant that produces prickling pears every year. It also blooms the most beautiful yellow flowers and attracts pollinators every spring. We have also found beavertail cactus out in Red Rock Canyon but we leave them alone because they are for the animal’s survival. I have yet to see a desert tortoise in the wild but I am sure they are out there. We find huge chunks chewed off of cacti once in a while. We are happy with our pricking pear cactus and we were also given more paddles last year. Luckily, these have no spines, pins, or needles. We are still waiting for them to produce fruit! The paintings below are the happy bees pollinating out sunflowers. I still need to paint the Prickling Pears.

Have a Marvelous Monday and thank you for reading!

-Karen Hilliard

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