"I am against religion because it teaches us to be satisfied with not understanding the world." -Richard Dawkins

Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Cactus

When I was two months pregnant, I discovered this brand new baby Opuntia, commonly known as a Prickly Pear, growing right alongside our front stoop.
I always checked on it- kind of like a surrogate because I couldn't check on Ro, who was busy in utero. I thought- as long as this cactus is fine, I'm sure she is, too. And it kept growing. Not that I expected it to do differently, but I'm fascinatingly good at killing plants, so I thought for sure it would get stepped on and die...
It budded and got taller and taller, survived endless abuse from the men who came to paint the house, and maintained a happy existence by the front door.
When I found out we were moving, I knew my only real course of action was to dig it up and transplant it somewhere- not somewhere, I knew it had to be at the Smith's- so that it could remain Ro's cactus and I'd always know where it was and what becomes of it.
So I dug it up and laid it out for the roots to dry, bundling up with it the bouquet of pink roses given to me on my first mother's day, while I was still pregnant, by a coworker. I felt terrible throwing them away after they'd been in a vase on my dresser for three years, but I could hardly swallow the idea of packing them in a box and taking them across the country.

I decided I'd bury them under the cactus along with my placenta, which I still had in the back of my freezer and still intended on burying in some sort of meaningful fashion. It was enough of a fight to get the hospital staff to give it to me in the first place (I suspect my midwives scared them,) and I couldn't just chuck it with the evening trash.

So we chose a place by the chicken coop in the garden at the Smith's, since Ro loves playing there and feeding and watering the hens. Here Ian is helping to dig the hole.

WARNING, GRAPHIC:
Here's my placenta, still looking exactly like it did at 1:39am on August 7th of '06... Yikes.
The first handful of dirt.
Adding the roses.

Tamping down the soil around the cactus.
And Ro at the end, helping to dampen the soil to pack it down. We joked that the cactus was going to spring up six feet and take over the whole garden because of the placenta- based on what I know about feeding placenta to roses, I suspect they might not be wrong!

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