The Cactus Patch
January 2017

Who was that “Indian”?
A Letter From Bruce
by Bruce Hargreaves

Just before Thanksgiving I read a whodunit by Cynthia Riggs called Indian Pipes.  The title refers to the plant Monotropa uniflora, also called ghost plant because it has white waxy stems without chlorophyll. It is in the heather family.  (This book is one of a series which have plant titles.)

The name also refers to real “Indians” (Native Americans).  Although the book is fiction, it refers to a real group, the Wampanoag, who live in eastern Massachusetts.  This served to remind me that the first Thanksgiving was shared between the Pilgrims (my ancestors) and the Wampanoag.  It is good to be reminded that this group is real and still living today.

On the day, the family met at my niece Tina’s new home for a humongous feast. We had a roast turkey, turkey hors d’oeuvres (with olives, pineapple and cheese on toothpicks) and even a turkey desert (marshmallow rice crispies shaped into a body with drumsticks).  All this despite the fact that no turkey was mentioned from the first Thanksgiving! (William Bradford does list fowl).

That Saturday we had another feast at Lora’s for those who had to work on Thanksgiving.  Lora set up her Christmas tree!  On Sunday we returned to Lora’s for leftovers and outdoor lights were hung!  It wasn’t even December.

At least the Fresno Succulent Society’s Christmas Potluck was on the 1st of December. They had the usual silent auction and I paid $25 for an Agave cerulata.  This is way beyond my usual limit, but it came in a beautiful pot which I figure is worth the extra cost.

We rushed back on the 2nd and not only sang with our Goldenaires choir, but were in time for a neighborhood progressive dinner.  It was interesting to meet some of our neighbors.

On the 13th we were at the BCSS potluck, but I failed to win the bid on Euphorbia alfredii. This is a small relative of Euphorbia millotii which I was given by the FCSS for helping with their Show and Sale.  It is blooming and I’ll bring it to the next meeting. 

On the 21st we joined a sing-along Messiah at the First Presbyterian Church with Robert Provencio directing. (We had sung under his direction some years ago in the community choir at CSUB).  His daughters sang the women’s solos and there was a very competent orchestra.

On the 22nd we had a potluck at our exercise group The Silver Sneakers.  With all this food, how am I supposed to control my weight?

The November/December issue of the Cactus and Succulent Journal has an obituary on Darrel Plowes, a naturalist of southern Africa.  We knew him from Botswana.  His succulent studies overlapped with mine. He will be missed.

Also, I just received an e-mail from the husband of Heidi Hartmann, a German expert on the mesembs.  She also died this year.  She stayed with us in Lesotho and Botswana and we stayed with her in Hamburg.  She also will be missed.

On a happier note, I was pleased to see a review of Maynard’s “Kern County Flora” in the Californian.  I can’t say more than the newspaper since I have not yet seen a copy, but it looks like a useful book to have.

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