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Amy Versus the Cactus

April 14, 2009

I bought a house late last summer. It was rewarding as for the first time in a long time it was something that I was able to do myself and it has given my family a sense of home and belonging. I love my new house, but with every home purchase comes changes that new owner desires. Over the winter I had my kitchen totally redone, every wall has been repainted, the hardwood floors shined and protected; it has been a labor of love for my kids and I. Now that spring is here it is time to concentrate on the outside of the house, giving it the same TLC that the inside has received.

This brings me to my nemesis, the awkwardly placed cactus in my front yard. One of the former owners was a landscaper who did wonderful things with the gardens except this oddly placed, out of character cactus. First of all, what business does a cactus have in Wisconsin? We don’t have anything even closely resembling a desert other than an occasional sand pit or sandbox. Secondly, what kind of cactus survives the Wisconsin winters? It gets darn cold here. The answer: the one in my front yard.

This past Tuesday I decided it was time to bid the cactus a fond farewell. It was an hour long, monumental battle which left me scratched, bruised and covered head to toe in cacti thorns. There was blood, there were inappropriate words said and there was carnage. The cactus now rests in peace in my compost pile, rotting away in the rainy spring weather.

amy-cactus1The sense of accomplishment I feel looking at my perfect “cactusless” garden is priceless. Thinking back, it was worth the pain, the effort, and literal blood, sweat and tiny tears. This (of course) got me thinking about life and the battles each of us tackle as we go about each day. Some of our battles are big and some of our battles are small, but each of us has our cactus or cacti to tackle. The job search is a cactus needing to be fought; you have to work on it every day, being tenacious until the perfect opportunity presents itself. Your schooling is a cactus, each class may present a thorn or two, but clearing that last week and getting a passing grade is as good a feeling as making it to the top of the pile playing “King on the Mountain” in grade school. Too, sometimes life is a cactus. It gets complicated, sometimes by our own hand and most often by unseen forces and happenstance.

It is important that we realize that when we see a cactus, we recognize it as a cactus. We recognize it as a hurdle that with time, tenacity and willpower we will sail past. We may have to pull out a few thorns along the way; that is what happens when you fight a cactus. But in the end hope will make all things right and heal all wounds.

I dedicate this blog to one of our students (unnamed) that is battling cancer; cancer is her cactus. I also dedicate it to all the other people in the world battling this or any other life changing disease. Stay strong, you can defeat your cactus and be left with a nice clean garden to grow in.

Springtime Smiles,


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