Teddy Bear….. whatever!


Here we have a photo essay of the Teddy Bear.  One is cute and cuddly.  The other is prickly and parlous.  Whoever named this particular member of the cholla cactus family ‘teddy bear’ needs a lobotomy.  Why am I so opinionated about this plant?  I have hugged both varieties pictured.

Let me take you back to a cool, cloudless day in the City of Phoenix, Maricopa County, Sonoran Desert, Arizona, to a hill behind my parent’s home.  A family hike with the youngin’s in tow was under way.  There was no path, no trail, no guide.  Just a rocky hill with a summit to be conquered.  Enter the teddy bear. (sinister music should be playing in the background)  Numerous times we had instructed the chil’ens to leave a wide path between themselves and the teddy bear cacti.  Rumor had it that this breed actually reacts to ground movements and can “shoot” a limb at a passerby.  I did not believe it until that fateful day.

We were half way up the incline when my husband yelled, “OOOOUUUUCCCCHHH!”  He was bringing up the rear of the ascent, so we all turned to see what the alarm was.  He held up his hand to reveal a teddy bear arm embedded in the side of his hand.  My insides did the roller-coaster flip-flop upon first glance.  No one witnessed the attack, so we’re not sure if it was human error or preying plant.  “Find something to pull it out!” Rick yelled.  We all began scanning the hillside for sticks… but there were no trees…. and hence, no sticks.  Just dead cactus arms, rocks and scrubby, brittle bushes. 

Two water bottles were the best retraction devices we could come up with, so I advanced toward the victim with the bottles gleaming in the sun.  “Wait a minute,” Rick added as he searched his pockets with his free hand, “I should take a picture of this with my cell phone.”  Now, when I’m in pain with a parasite digging it’s spines into my flesh, I do not think, “Let me take a picture of this!”  It’s got to be a guy thing.

Anyway, photo-shoot behind us, I advanced with the water bottles a second time.  Rick held his arm straight down and I tenderly placed the bottles on each side of his hand.  On the count of three, I squeezed them against the poky branch and after a bit of resistance, it dislodged…… and flew into my thigh…. sticking through my jeans… and secured it’s new territory whole heartily.  I lost all the air in my lungs, while firmly gripping the retraction devices.  Confirming what I had earlier surmised, I did not once think of taking a picture of my pain.  I’m such a girl.

When I gained mental fortitude, I squeezed the bottles again.  But alas, the teddy bear was enjoying me more than my husband and was hugging more fiercely.  My second attempt was successful and I was indeed cactus free.

Later that night, simply for the comparison factor, we counted blood-dot entry points.  Rick’s hand had 9.  Linda’s leg had 23.  I won.  And I don’t even have a picture on my phone to show for it.

When hiking in cactus country, Be Prepared!  1. Water  2.  Sunscreen  3.  Large comb to remove cacti.

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3 Responses to “Teddy Bear….. whatever!”

  1. Kellie Says:

    Ouch! Yes, I believe that the cacti is misnamed.

    Thanks for visiting my blog! I’ve enjoyed perusing yours!

  2. LaVonna Says:

    Hey Linda,

    We were thinking the same thing today when we were hiking Pinnacle Peak. You should have seen Rachel’s face as I was reading her the name: Teddy Bear Cholla. She has had her issues in the past with the cactus family.

  3. LaVonna Says:

    Oh yes…in all fairness for Rick’s sake, I would have taken a picture, too. Of course I had photo documentation of James falling off the cliff and riding in his first ambulance last July!

    Must be a Native American thing..ha.ha.ha.

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