Why the Tree of Life?


Tasting Nature

For awhile now, we have been taking weekly nature walks with some good friends. We are blessed with a greenbelt and trails behind our house, and we have been sticking close to home on our hikes these days. Ayla refuses to ride in a backpack, and she wills her legs to carry her only so far. She also has a love/hate relationship with water. She loves to play in it, but if she gets a drop on her, all clothes must come off since they are "wet." Nine times out of ten, we emerge from the woods with her completely naked. Shoes are usually shed before we've even left the driveway. She has hobbit feet. Really and truly.

The boys found a prickly pear, and while we were waiting for our companions to arrive Monday morning, I read a little bit about prickly pears in my Edible and Useful Plants of Texas. I had the bright idea that we could collect a bunch and have a tasting and make one of the recipes. I quickly found gloves (they grow on cacti, fyi for those of you living outside the SW). But we found nary a one. I guess the season is over, though I really felt like I had just seen a ton.

When we sat down to draw in our nature journals, I cut up our one prickly pear so that everyone could have a taste. None of the kids liked it, but the adults could see the potential. It was obviously overripe, and different kinds of prickly pears can be sweeter than others.

We also identified the Mexican buckeye, seen above, and found out that they are very poisonous. In fact, my book claimed, indigenous people used them to make poisons for their arrows. Fascinating tidbit. Don't tell Dunagan.
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