For those of us who remember Star Trek, The Trouble With Tribbles provided figurative thorns in Captain Kirk’s side. Not to dissimilar is the predicament with prickly pears, except that they provide literal thorns.

Prickly pear cacti, a member of the opuntia genus, abound here in the Southwest. The cactus itself is a paddle with spines. In the summer, they first burst with beautiful flowers, and by mid-September, they are bearing the most fascinating fruit, aka Indian fig. When ripe, its skin is a vibrantly-rich maroon thick exterior ensconced with even more spines. These spines are hair-like prickles, the smaller ones almost invisible to the naked eye; and the more mature ones looking like barbs ready to strike. Touch one, and those almost invisible spines will not-so-politely remove themselves from the prickly pear and insert themselves into your penetrable skin. And that’s when the fun begins. Ah, but I am getting ahead of myself.

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