How I began to collect cacti

Pediocactus simpsonii (a difficult North-American echinocactus)As it always happens in life, just when you cease to believe in luck it comes to you out of the blue. It came to me from my best friend, a charming and incredibly fussy woman, always having something new and interesting in reserve. During one of our meetings she spoke about the guitar she bought and her first attemts to play it. Naturally my first question was about her progress as a guitar player. But she only waved away and said that there are much more interesting things, for example, cactuses. “I collect cacti. Do you know what a cactus is?” she asked.I was sure I knew and I told her confidently everything I heard about the subject matter: “Well, it is something… prickly… and round?” And then she told me that cacti are not necessarily round, they also can be long and flat and even like a “cat’s tail”. I listened to her with bated breath. Eventually I went to look at her cactus collection the same evening.

Coming back home and looking at the streets in twilight I tried to contemplate my impressions. Certainly, I saw different cacti before. But it was for the first time that I could see such a great variety of them so near and in the same place. I liked them very much as they reminded me of something dear and lovely that I could not remember.

At that moment I caught the contour of the trees standing on the twilight streets and understood everything. They reminded me of children’s drawings, so simple, laconic and expressive at the same time.

A week later I called my friend and told her that I also wanted to collect cacti and asked her what my first steps should be.

“First of all buy tweezers to pull thorns out and then come to me with a big basket – I will give you my collection.” she said.  “They have bothered me. I’m pricked like a pillow for pins, and they die for some reason. And besides, I have a crab that I’m much more fond of now. Her name is Lisa and she is horribly angry! I keep her in the jar with sea-water. So funny to look how she swallows up worms!”

Thus I became the owner of a pretty large cactus collection. I washed and cleaned my cactuses, rearranged and replaced them. I asked all my acquaintances and friends whether they know people who have cactuses, and whether it is impossible to get a cutting or a shoot for me.

So I became a recruit in the numerous army of cactus collectors.