Friday, December 14, 2007

The cactus came through

My family moved to New Mexico just before I started second grade, in 1960. We then moved to Arizona early the next year, probably in February or March. While in New Mexico, we sometimes took trips in the car to look at the scenary.

One time when we were driving through the desert, we saw a very small mountain that abruptly rose up out of the flat desert. The mountain, small enough to be called a hill, looked so odd and out of place, surrounded by flat desert, that we stopped to have a better look.

The mountain was covered with rocks and boulders and had lots of plants on it, including several types of cactus. One of the types of cactus was a prickly pear that grew close to the ground, its broad, flat lobes having clusters of long needles.

I walked up on the mountain, along with my father and younger brother. I think my mother stayed further behind, and didn't actually get up on the mountain. I moved by myself among the rocks, away from the others, and was careful not to step on or brush against any of the types of cactus that grew there among the other plants. As I moved forward in my irregular path, I noticed that one of the flat prickly pears was not too far ahead. I kept that in mind as I wandered along between and on the rocks, and I purposely steered to one side to avoid it.

All of a sudden, I looked down and saw cactus needles, long spines, sticking out of the top of one of my thin-soled canvas shoes. I had somehow stepped on the prickly pear, even though I had tried to avoid it. And it was that same prickly pear, for I looked around to try to see if I had somehow stepped on a different one, one that I had been for some reason unaware of. There were no other ones near me. It had to be the same one, though I could not understand how I had managed to do it.

I looked down at the spines coming out of the top of my shoe for what seemed like a long time. There were at least three or four of them, and they were all in the front section of my shoe, probably within two or three inches or so of the front. While I could accept that perhaps one or two of them could have been in front of or between my toes, at least one was so far back that it had to have been very close to and perhaps past the point where my toes joined my foot, and one was so far back that it had to have been through my foot.

I didn't feel any pain, or anything of the spines at all. There was no blood. I didn't know what would happen, though, if I tried to pull my foot off the cactus. Perhaps it would start to hurt, then. Perhaps everything would get very bad. I continued staring at it. I was hesitant to call out to my parents, because I felt kind of stupid for stepping on it, especially when I knew about it and was trying to avoid it.

Finally, because I knew I couldn't stay there forever, and having no other solution, I lifted up my foot and the needles came right out. I still didn't feel anything, and I didn't seem to be injured. The whole thing seems very strange, and I've never understood it.

Labels: , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home

Newer Posts . . . . Older Posts