Winter in the desert is beautiful. Although it is the season of rest, the first of February is when life again takes hold and signs of fresh, new life can be seen. This year, abundant water has left washes and creeks flowing with water. Water, mixed with the sunshine's warmth has caused signs of life that are not as visible in drier years. Cacti are plump and enticing because of the moisture available to them. The teddy bear cacti is especially appealing. Dry ocatilla is starting to leaf out, creating long sticks of green leaves. The prickly pear cactus, so common, is beautiful in large clumps and clusters in the desert. The desert rain has brought everything to life!
The prickly pear cactus in this picture reminds me of cousin Della, who harvests its inexpensive and abundant fruit from the desert around her ranch-house kitchen. The prickly pears range are the fruit of the plant, appearing in colors of yellow and red. When cooked, the prickly pear fruit makes a beautiful, rosy juice that Della cooks into delicious jelly that she shares with those she loves. I always love it when she shares with our family! Prickly pear juice also makes wonderful candy, soft and chewy.
Have you ever made prickly pear jelly? Or eaten candy made from its rosy juice?