I thought there might be another blooming of the Christmas cactus. Why? It just looks so incredibly healthy and it’s been putting up new shoots like crazy. I wasn’t paying much attention to it, probably because of the birds. But I was noticing that the orchid has sent up a new shoot and when I looked, I realized that cactus if full of buds.
So … I took a few pictures. I think we’ll have actual flowers next week or even the middle of the week. That was a really fast turnaround, fastest ever for me.
The buds have been big since before Christmas, but this cactus waited until the New Year to bloom. I suppose that would make it a New Year’s cactus?
The buds were pink and the bud which has not yet opened is also dark pink, but after opening, it seems more red than pink. In any case, that’s what the camera picked up.
The leaves are translucent, so how red or pink the blossom appears depends on the light.
It was a sunny day. I had to wait until the sun wasn’t directly on the flower. I need the brightness of the sun, but in full sun, parts of the flower burn out and processing the pictures becomes problematic.
It’s easier to wait an hour until the sun has moved to the west a few degrees. This time of year, it doesn’t take long for the sun to move along.
These are all macros because that’s the lens I had on the camera. Besides, what’s the point of having a macro lens if you don’t use it to photograph flowers?
While I’ve been busy shooting the birds, the cacti have been happily blooming their hearts out. The red one is still blooming. Not as fully as it was, but it still has new buds and it is very much alive and well. I can’t remember ever having a blooming period this long.
The second “pink” cactus is blooming now. I don’t think it’s going to have a very big bloom. Only a handful of buds. One is fully in bloom and one is likely to bloom any minute.
I took pictures today. I should have waited for a brighter day, but when the sun is very bright, it tends to give me a lot of excessively high contrast which doesn’t look well with these translucent flowers.
The pink flowers are only slightly less red than the red cactus. The buds are pink, but when they bloom, they look darker and not as pink as the buds lead you to believe.
When I was little, everyone’s trees were covered in tinsel and some fluffy white stuff. It imitated snow on the branches of your tree and placed judiciously, was quite lovely. The white fluffy stuff was banned because it was mostly fiberglass. It was lethal to pets and dangerous for people, too.
As for tinsel, I think it was a cleanup issue. It got into everything. Animals ate it, including dogs, cats, and baby rug-rats. It did look very pretty, all silvery on the trees. It came in other colors too, but I don’t think most people really got “into” the pinks and oranges and blues.
From when I married Jeffrey in 1964, we had ‘real’ trees. It was a family thing, to get the biggest tree you could, then spend hours reconstructing it with saws and wires to make it look perfect
Real Christmas trees weren’t expensive, either. Even though they made an awful mess (I was usually still trying to get those dried pine needles out of the wood floors a year later when the new tree was going up), it wasn’t a big deal to get a tree and there was a tree lot on every corner.
Then one year — it must have been during the late 1970s — the price shot up and a tree that had cost $10 the previous year was $50 the next.
We still got a real one until the end of the 1970s when Jeff and I divorced and I moved to Israel.
By the time I came back from Israel (August 1987), a $10 tree was $100. Garry and I bought got real ones for a few years when we had the townhouse in Boston. One was so perfect — and so WIDE — it took up the entire living room. The following year I tried to find an unreal tree that would fit into our actual space.
Then we moved here and since we live 5 doors down from an actual Christmas tree farm (which today I noticed is for sale, so there goes Arrowhead Farms!), you could choose your tree in August or September, watch it grow, then cut it down yourself immediately before you were ready to put it up. Talk about a FRESH tree.
I never had trouble putting up the tree and everyone was eager to help decorate it, but no one ever wanted to take it down or put away the decorations. We still had a tree standing one year on my birthday in March.
We had a few more live ones after that, but the bloom was coming off the rose. Even a six-foot tree took up more room than we could really give it. There was nowhere to walk around it — and the dogs were always trying to eat the glass ornaments.
NO ONE wants their dogs eating glass anything, much less those fragile ornaments. Cats just liked to play with them, but the dogs liked a good hefty bite! Then, for a while, it became almost impossible to get glass ornaments. Some sort of national agreement that all decorations would be plastic.
A few years ago when my son and his family moved out, Garry and I realized we didn’t need gigantic trees. We started buying little real trees in pots on the theory that we could plant them in the spring, but they never survived long enough to plant. They dried out and died long before it was warm enough to plant anything.
Finally, three years ago, I found the perfect fake 4-foot tree. It looks so much like a real tree, most people think it is real until they touch it and even then, they aren’t sure. I had a lot of searching to do to find it.
Also, it is big enough to have some presence. It feels like a tree, not like a toy yet it is small enough to put on our huge coffee table on which we never serve coffee. The table really functions as a place to show off old pottery and other small decorative things because under the glass top is a shelf for “stuff.” And it’s big enough to sort the laundry.
Thus we found a viable version of Christmas for us. It is big enough to be a Christmas but sufficiently small and neat to make it something we could do ourselves without winding up exhausted with a giant mess following the holiday.
I think our 4-foot always-decorated tree is perfect. It safeguards all our earlier Christmases and it’s ready in half a blink to take its place. From last year, it also has lights.
There’s nothing religious — per se — about the tree but there is symbolism in it and continuity. It means something because we’ve always had some kind of Christmas. This is easy, pretty, painless … so we get to keep our personal history.
A very little, very pretty Christmas from us to you! And don’t forget: at least one of us is sort of Jewish, in a casual sort of way.
It has continued to bloom and now, the second (pink) cactus has set buds too. I don’t think it will bloom before the holidays, but maybe by New Year’s. It’s hard to tell. The buds are fat but don’t look ready to pop.
Meanwhile, Merry Christmas from our Christmas cactus to yours — or you — depending!
The interval between the fullness of a bud and the opening of the blossom is a time for the season. The Christmas cactus continues to bloom and our time is cactus time!
As I watch the changing cactus, I realize that before there were clocks, there was the growth of the soil, the height of the corn, the flowing, and drying of waters. The movement of sun and moon as the seasons change.
This is all around us. Every breath we take is a tiny piece of our life.
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