Godot Gives It Another Go

“What’s happening with Godot this year?” she asked. Startled, I said I didn’t know. I’d paid scant attention to my little patio friend since April, when inspections revealed no sign of activity in the cactus pot – no new growth, no buds, no blooms. By the beginning of May things still were quiet and, as happens in so many families, the quiet and well-behaved one was left to fend for himself.

Of course, turning your back on the quiet one can be dangerous. Left to their own devices, there’s no telling what they’ll get up to.

Newer readers may be wondering why I’m talking about a cactus as though it’s a child, but there’s some history here. Godot’s been with me for well over a decade. We’ve developed a bit of a relationship, and I have more than a little affection for my quiet, prickly friend.

Godot came to live with me after the death of a human friend’s mother. When those who’d known her were offered a remembrance from her extensive collection of plants, I chose a slightly pathetic, short, scruffy little cactus no one could identify and took it off to live on twenty-three acres of unimproved land in the Texas hill country.

The valley was filled with scrub and live oak, pin oak, black walnut and cherry. Along the creek, water striders darted beneath canopies of  fern. Fossils – clams, whelks and corals – lined its limestone  bed.  In summer, lightning bugs rose from the damp and decaying bottoms like shimmering steam, and at the first touch of autumn cold, freezing ice plants split open their tall, slender stems, the curling froth of water betokening winter to come.

There was a cabin in the valley, filled with just enough convenience to make it comfortable. There were screened windows and an ill-fitting screen door that slammed shut with a terrifically satisfying metallic “thwang!” There were Coleman lanterns and a wood-burning stove, gravity-fed water from a barrel in a tree and all the shade you could want.

Dangling from a hook between the cabin and the creek, my little cactus lived a quiet life, dependent on nature’s largess for survival. It didn’t grow, but it didn’t die. It simply was. After months of waiting for the cactus to do something – anything! – I named him Godot.  The name made me laugh. With a name, he seemed less prickly, more accessible.  People talked to him and gave him extra water. Sometimes, they carried him into the sunlight for an afternoon. Through it all, nothing changed.

Eventually, the cabin and its land was sold. In the midst of clearing out the cabin, Godot nearly was forgotten, but at the last minute I retrieved him and took him back to Houston, where he began adjusting to city life. I replaced his plastic basket with a clay pot filled with good dirt, and plunked him into it.  Just as he’d done at the cabin, he sat around, prickly and plain, doing a whole lot of nothing.

One day, I noticed with astonishment he seemed to have grown. In fact, he was growing, a quarter-inch at a time. Through the course of the next year, he grew a full three inches as new dirt, full sunlight and consistent watering began working their magic. Then, the miracle happened.  A small swelling appeared. Within a few days, it became identifiable as a bud. Godot was going to bloom.

In only a week my scrubby little cactus produced a glorious pink flower. Thrilled with this surprise from a plant I confess I’d labeled an under-achiever, I awoke the next  morning consumed by a single thought:  “I need to get a photo of that flower.”  Unfortunately, that also was the morning I learned an important lesson about cactus. Many blooms last no more than a day. Godot had done his thing, and the show was over. There would be no photo.

The next year, Godot set two buds rather than one.  Having planned a road trip to Mississippi, I was nervous about missing a second photo opportunity. I considered taking Godot with me, thinking he could ride on the floor of the car. Hearing my plans, a local plant guru rolled his eyes and promised that bringing Godot inside, into lower levels of light and cooler temperatures, would slow down the blooming process. Nervously, I brought him in, lowered some shades and the thermostat, and left.

Returning home, I was relieved to find Godot essentially unchanged. Moving him back into his accustomed place in the sun, I resigned myself to more waiting, but I didn’t have to wait long. Within a day his buds began to swell. In two days they opened: first the petals, then the bright centers. Larger than the first year’s blossom, the pair opened fully in six hours and remained open through the afternoon and evening. This time I got my photo, before dusk approached and the petals began to close. By morning, the blossoms were shriveled and drooping. In only a few days, they fell to the ground.

Last year, just when I’d decided Godot had grown fond of indolence and was taking a vacation of his own, he surprised me by setting three buds. Even the buds were attractive, softly pink and similar in size. Despite my hopes for a spectacular trio of flowers, they bloomed in sequence, with the first being the largest and showiest flower Godot had produced.

Which brings us to this year, and Mother Nature’s mid-May surprise for Godot.  Once I’d decided this was going to be the year of rest, a sabbatical of sorts for my friend, I walked out one evening and discovered another three buds had emerged. They grew quickly, this time blooming simultaneously after only a week of development.

In a delightful bit of irony, my lover of all things hot and dry bloomed on a rainy day. Disappointed by the lack of sunlight and certain my photo would be equally disappointing, I recorded the event for posterity. Much to my delight, Godot looked even more dashing with a splash of rain on his petals. Satiny and sleek, they glittered and glistened as if aware they were providing Godot a once-in-a-lifetime experience. After all, not every cactus gets to bloom in the rain.

Blooming in the Rain – Click to Enlarge

The excitement over, Godot has reverted to his low-profile ways, content to doze away his days among the other cactus. In years past, he reminded me that appearances aren’t predictive, that even the plainest among us can produce spectacular beauty and that, in the presence of unexpected beauty, we should take time to pause and appreciate.

And this year?  This year’s lesson may be the simplest of all. The sun doesn’t always shine, but even if it rains there’s no reason to cancel the parade. Godot says so – and he’s the living proof.

 An additional note: I’ve learned Godot is known more formally as “Echinocereus reichenbachii” or “Lace Cactus”. He’s native to Texas, common in the hill country, and probably was plucked-up-from-the-ground-and-potted by my friend’s mother.
The page dedicated to his kind at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center describes Lace Cactus as small, rarely exceeding eight inches in height. At this point, Godot is ten inches tall and still growing, presumably a testament to good home cooking. We’ll see what he has to offer next year.
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98 thoughts on “Godot Gives It Another Go

  1. Hi Linda:

    I had read about this companion of yours a while back and had savored photos of the pink flowers. But this time, like good wine, the story is saturated with finger-licking flavor and pizzazz. So are the exquisite photographs full of life.

    You never cease to amaze me my friend. Boy, what a wonderful way to enjoy a lazy Sunday afternoon.

    Thank you so much,


    1. Omar,

      “Pizzazz” is such a great word – and a good one for that last photo, I think. He really outdid himself with that last blooming. I couldn’t imagine how three blossoms would have room to line up across the top of that cactus, but they did.

      I was amazed to discover these lace cactus are rather small in their natural state. I’ve been careful not to fertilize Godot – with cactus, fast growth equals an early demise, or so they say. Still, a pot filled with good dirt apparently beats rocky Texas hill country when it comes to putting down roots!


  2. Linda, this little cactus is just beautiful, and I love how you’ve personified him! I think that’s probably contributed to his growth and blossoms, your tender loving care.

    I don’t believe I’ve ever seen one of these plants. Certainly not growing natively in Illinois. I didn’t realize their blooms were so “here today, gone tomorrow.”

    My Shamrock is very much like that. Fiona seems to spend much of her time waiting. When she decides to bloom, she offers up a few delicate, white flowers — so far, much sparser than the ones she was endowed with at the time of her purchase — but her blooming seems to occur once a year or so.

    Sigh. Still, ’tis a happy day when she’s in full dress!

    1. Debbie,

      I have a tendency toward personification. Cars, cactus, critters – I just can’t help myself. I think it’s fun and, besides, everything has a name, whether we know it or not.

      You wouldn’t see one of these unless you were traveling a bit. They’re native to Texas, but also found in Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico and Oklahoma. I used to think of cactus as strictly warm-weather plants, but that’s not so. The USDA database for these mentions that they’re cold tolerant, too – well adapted for their areas they claim.

      I don’t have many cactus, but those I have bloom sporadically and only for a short time. I have one with beautiful yellow flowers that blooms all summer, but each set of blossoms is good for only a couple of days. They are beautiful – no question about that!


  3. I just love it!!! Perhaps the reason my iris didn’t bloom this year is that I have given them no names? Other than my Momma Iris which DID bloom. I shall have to think of names for them all. My lilies–all names Fred’s Gifts always bloom–it must be the naming thing! Godot is certainly a gorgeous fellow–I hope he won’t mind me saying that about him.

    1. Judy,

      Iris? Oh, now you’re going to have to consult a real gardener, and that’s not me. I did have to laugh, though. My mother used to plant iris all the time, and the primary reason she rarely got a nice stand of them was the squirrels. They were death on her iris and the tulip bulbs. It was an on-going war, I tell you. But with so many iris, you might want to think of a collective name – like The Brady Bunch. Just for the convenience, you understand.

      I have a feeling Godot doesn’t mind a compliment in the least. I’m thinking I might have to get him a friend or two, though. All of the photos I’ve found of them in the wild show them growing in groups, not all by themselves. What good’s being handsome if you can’t show off to your own kind?


  4. What a refreshing, heartwarming story you’ve shared with us! Godot teaches us to expect beauty where and when we least expect to find it!
    I’m working on a fence and am about to return with a light heart thanks to your story of the little cactus that could!

    1. Z,

      It’s just a casual thought, but it feels right – all of the art we produce, all of our painting, writing, music, film, is a response to a world that’s already there. And even those who aren’t so inclined toward the arts in a formal sense can respond to the world’s beauty. We need a couple of phrases: art appreciation, yes, but also the art OF appreciation!

      As for your fence… We’re going to have to call you the Tom Sawyer of Jama. Just a change or two, and this Google doodle could be you and your friends!


  5. An utterly charming story, which has me returning to the past.The naming of plants to begin with. Wandering around a friend’s mother’s garden for the first time, and asking her the names of some unfamiliar plants, all I got was ‘oh, I call that one Mary’ or ‘that’s Jim’, and so on, as not being a great one to remember botanical names, Joan simply named the plants after the friends who had given them to her. Her garden was not one of those ‘perfect’ monstrosities – it was full of charm and delight and an absolute pleasure to be in.

    As a child, my first gardening experiences were with cacti, and by the time I reached double figures, I had a wide collection of them. I’ve lost that collection, and others I have gained over the years, but I’ve never lost my love of these prickly gems. Long live Godot!

    1. eremophila,

      What a lovely way to name! Your friend not only was acknowledging a relationship with her plants, she was honoring her relationships with the people who’d given them to her.

      I’m not much of a fan of box hedges and topiary myself. My preferences are for old-fashioned cutting gardens and old-fashioned flowers. Still, a well-planned garden that takes into account the changing seasons and the way each variety complements the others is a delight.

      Cactus are terrifically interesting. They do well for me because my “patio” in summer has a good bit of hot, direct sunlight. But when I began collecting them, it never occured to me I’d have the pleasure of blossoms, too. It’s been a real treat, and fun to share them.


  6. I’m glad to see not only that your lace cactus has kept flowering, but that you were able to get some pretty pictures of those flowers. Last year I didn’t see any flowers on the lace cactus I know a few miles from home, and this year I haven’t been back to take a look. May not have been the appropriate time, and now could be too late, but I’ll try to check.

    1. Steve,

      I suspect any lace cactus in the wild in your area already has bloomed. It’s been nearly a month now since Godot put on his flowers, and we’ve seemed to be later than you with everything this year. I just noticed on Friday, for example, that the prickly pear I drive by finally has some open flowers – but only a very few. It’s loaded with buds, so it should be quite a show if the majority open at the same time.

      When I was skimming images of this species in the wild, I came across your framed image of the cactus top. It’s proof that even without blossoms these little plants can be interesting subjects.


    1. Oh, and here we go, plunging over the falls into the etymological pool. I see Reichenbach Falls has a funicular railway. Funicular is derived from the Latin “funis” – rope, or cord. And of course the next thing to come to mind was the wonderful song “Funiculi, Funicula”, written in 1880 to celebrate the first funicular railway on the slopes of Mt. Vesuvius.

      You can read all about it here, including the Italian words to the song and their translation. Oh – and you can see a photo of the first funambulist to walk across Niagara Falls on a tightrope!

  7. For such a humble little cacti, Godot surely puts on a wonderful show, however briefly. It was nice to hear his story again.

    My little wild Texas cacti are putting out multiple arms or growths or whatever you call them. I planted all three in one pot but I need to transplant two. One has decided to take over; it’s twice the size of the other two and has many more growths. I just keep putting it off, as the spines are a bit intimidating. I must do it soon.

    The spineless prickly pear put out one new pad last year and three new pads this year. Hubby knocked one of the new ones off as he was vigorously sweeping the front steps.

    Then one of my destructive local ‘limb rats’ literally chewed a hole in one of the two remaining new pads. I guess I could call it the porthole cactus!

    No blooms on any of them but I’m patient.

    1. Gué,

      The good news about that hole that the squirrels created is that the cactus probably will be fine. The parent plant for mine (and hence yours) was one that the deer would munch on from time to time. It was the funniest thing ever. The pads looked for all the world like you or I had taken a big bite. But I never saw a damaged one die. They’re tough.

      I just broke off a pad from mine yesterday. It’s in its own pot, now. I need to split the plant and put it in two pots, but I’m going over to the nursery to consult before I do. I think a swift whack with a good sharp knife should do it, but I need to know if there are any special needs, post-surgery. One thing’s for sure – repotting isn’t’ an option. I can’t move the pot now.

      When the blooms come on the spineless, they’ll be yellow. Mine never has bloomed. And my cereus never has bloomed again. I guess all the conditions have to be just right.

      But I can count on Godot – and Godette, too. She’s already put out several groups of those pretty yellow flowers. It surely is fun to watch.


      1. Well, if I had known I could have potted up that baby pad, I’d have kept it. If it ever happens again, I’m forewarned.

        I had a cereus once and the blooming process was something else. I had to sit up waaaay past my bedtime that night to catch it. It succumbed to a sudden drop in temps one winter night. I really don’t have anyplace to overwinter delicate plants. The cacti I have seem to be able to take our cold snaps.

        My century plant is starting to form teensy little pods at the tips of the branches. It will be blooming soon.

  8. Oh wow…gorgeous luminous blossoms! It looks like when Godot is good and ready he produces a masterpiece! And a delightful missive too. I have to say I have no green thumb and the orchids that manage to survive my care do best when I put them outside to their own devices. I just feel so much better when they produce blooms,for the beauty and for the relief of not having caused the untimely demise of such elegance.

    1. Judy,

      I didn’t know until the past year or two how many varieties of wild orchid there are in this country – and all over the country, too, not just in Florida or California. They’re tougher than I realized, really quite hardy little plants. It does seem as though they have a hard time indoors. I’ve heard that lack of humidity can be a culprit – which would explain why yours do so well outdoors!

      I wouldn’t say I have a green thumb, but I do very well with Christmas cactus, African violets and ficus trees. So – I grow more of them. I can get geraniums to do well, too, but they don’t like the heat so their season is short here and sometimes I don’t even mess with them.

      I’ve killed a few plants in my time. Usually, it was neglect, pure and simple. I’m doing better these days.


    1. So nice to see you, Val! I do love that last photo myself. There’s something about raindrops that makes anything looks better – they’re like little jewels. He does wear them well, doesn’t he?


  9. Godot reminds us that the best things come not only to those who wait — but to those who nurture, who stand fast, who love. And really, what a great and beautiful gift Godot has given once again — perhaps all the lovelier for the rain.

    Thank you, Linda, for telling us all about Godot’s newest and perhaps most crowning glory!

    1. jeanie,

      And there’s something else. When I read that the majority of these grow to be 3-8″, and then measured Godot and found he’s gotten to be 10″ – well. I just may end up with the Guiness Book of World Records lace cactus, at least in terms of size. His diameter is increasing, too, so he’s a sturdy thing. I don’t think he’s going to get repotted for a couple of years, though. I don’t want to encourage this and have him grow himself to death!

      I love that he got to bloom in the rain. Of course, rain makes everything better. Remember the wonderful song from Jane Morgan?


    1. montucky,

      It tickles me to have a native flower to show you! Not that I’d want to brag on him, but I’d say he’d hold up well next to your beauties. Of course, I don’t have to travel so far to see his flowers, but every year it’s been just as much a surprise!


  10. Pleased to know that Godot is still alive and in the bloom of health. I always thought that if a cactus had a personality, it would be prickly and curmudgeonly, which is probably why Godot reminds me of Porky Pine in the comic Pogo — cynical and misanthropic, yet he shows up on Pogo’s door stoop on Christmas Day in his trademark plaid hat, bearing a flower for his best friend.

    A character in a web comic I follow has a sombrero-wearing cactus named McPedro who sports a toothy grin and handlebar moustache. Since he has arms, he evidently has saguaro blood, and since he speaks in an Irish brogue, he is likely of mixed parentage. As you well know, you never can tell with cacti.

    1. WOL,

      Truly, I need to get back to Pogo for some refreshers. I’d forgotten Porky Pine, but as soon as you mentioned that hat and the flower, I could see him as plainly as if he were standing next to me.

      Prickly and curmudgeonly? Good call – except maybe for my Cereus peruvianus monstrose, whose just the strong, silent type. It’s bloomed only once in the years I’ve had it. It would probably do better in the ground than a pot at this point, but it’s beyond my capacity to deal with. Maybe I’ll find out about dividing it, too.

      I think the saguaros are so handsome, but I can’t remember ever seeing one in the wild, so to speak. I suppose heading west rather than east on I-10 would make that more likely.


  11. I think my cactus may be ‘waiting for Godot’ to bloom itself. Ten years and nothing to show for them :(

    1. mrscarmichael,

      Well, it took more than ten years for those of mine that have bloomed to actually pull it off. Who knows why? It could have been just the right conditions, or reaching a certain age.

      What does occur to me is that the blooms came after I became a little less enthusiastic about watering, and moved Godot away from the railing where he got rained on from time to time. They are cactus, after all, and need less attention than I was used to providing.

      Patience! Maybe you’ll get some blooms yet. I do hope so.


  12. This is just one of the coolest things ever! And I so love that you’ve recorded Godot’s history. (Remind us how it is pronounced?)

    You and Godot get along so well because you are both so quirky! I do so admire quirky! Makes the mundane exciting. Makes the plain fantastic. Makes the boring challenging. I see this is as an example of life becoming what we make of it. You chose that little plant as a token of remembrance, you could’ve left him behind in hill country, forgotten and forlorn, but you didn’t. You took him to a new place, gave him a new start and new life, and like us, sometimes, that’s just what the plant doctor ordered!!!!

    1. BW,

      Actually, there’s some interesting information about the pronunciation of Godot here. I’ve always heard it with the American pronunciation mentioned in the first paragraphs of the article – and now I see it’s not what Becket intended. Live and learn. Well, my Godot is still Go-DOUGH.

      Quirky? Moi? Well, maybe so. I’ve been feeling more like a plodder recently, but that’s a function of the heat. I absolutely agree with you that the plain and mundane often hold treasure, if only we take the time to look and explore.

      Thinking about poor Godot abandoned in the hill country is just so sad to me. The only way I could have left him there would have been to get him out of that basket and back in the ground. But once I remembered him, there was no way he was staying there. Maybe I should start Mother Linda’s Home for Abandoned Cactus….


      1. Interesting pronunciations, although you know we would say “go-deaux” down here for sure! Okay, Mother Linda’s Home for Abandoned Cactus cracked me up!!!

  13. Hold on a minute …isn’t he behaving somewhat out of character by actually arriving?

    Gorgeous blooms it’s amazing that they are so pink! I don’t know why this should surprise me but it seems very incongruous with the whole prickly thing. I feel happy for him that he got a shower. It’s funny, I always refer to plants as female as in ‘she’s a beauty’ or ‘she didn’t like the wind’…but your cactus totally belongs to his name.

    I really like the look of that 23 acres, what a beautiful landscape. Did you live there?

    One thing I’ve always struggled with is the US use of the word ‘dirt’. My language hackles start afizzing. It’s not dirt, it’s earth…or soil! I guess this must be because the connotations in UK English are ‘unclean’ rather than simply referring to a material. We don’t have that many misses on words…can you think of any which you just don’t ‘get’?

    1. thinkingcowgirl,

      Sure, he’s acting out of character, and that’s part of the fun. What do you suppose Beckett would have thought if he’d discovered that Godot actually was a cactus? Now that I think of it, “Godot” would be a good name for a turtle, too. Slow to arrive, but delightful once at the party. As for the gender – well, he just always was a he. I suppose it actually was the name that fixed that. He does have a friend named Godette, a different variety of cactus with very pretty yellow flowers. Godette, of course, is a “she”.

      The photo’s actually a generic hill country view. The 23 acres was a heavily wooded valley with three springs and a small creek. The view here is from a ridge up above the valley. I didn’t live there – it was a weekend/vacation place. I wasn’t given to taking photos through those years, so I’ve only got one photo of the cabin and a few of the land. Pretty place, though, with lots of wildlife.

      I laughed to read your “dirt” comment. For me, “soil” can have the same negative connotations, as in “soiling one’s clothes”. Of course we talk about potting soil, landscape soil and “good soil”, but it’s dirt to me. I grew up among people who were perfectly capable of standing at the edge of a field and sighing, “Look at that beautiful dirt”. If one of those folks had said, “What beautiful soil”, we would have assumed they were uppity city folk who wouldn’t know a corn tassle from a teabag.

      Speaking of – I heard a funny true story yesterday about a fellow who just moved to Houston from Mississippi. We have a clay soil that’s difficult for gardeners, so he simply brought over a big ol’ truckload of dirt from Mississippi and planted his tomatoes in that. From what I hear, they’re about five feet high and producing like mad. Good dirt!


  14. Of course I had to come out of “retirement” to comment on a Godot post. Gosh Linda Godot’s flowers are quite spectacular. Three in a row like that would make any mother’s heart proud :D

    I know what you mean about waiting and watching for a plant to flower. My night blooming cereus put out a bud early this month. I watched it carefully every day… We went out last Saturday night and when we came home close to midnight I was tired and forgot to go outside and check it. Next morning we found it had bloomed without us. (each flower only blooms for one single night)

    1. Rosie,

      Last year’s trio were lovely, but they just couldn’t get their act together to bloom simultaneously. Two of them were obviously smaller than the first bloom, too. I wasn’t sure when I saw three buds this year if they even would have room to open together, but they did just fine.

      Too bad about missing your cereus, though understandable. It seems such a shame the blooms only hold for a day, but it certainly does add to the mystery and excitement. Some of the photos I’ve seen show multiple blossoms – one person said she had seventeen last year, and they bloomed over a period of about three weeks. Do you have any more buds that have formed?

      So nice to see you! I hope all is well and that you’re enjoying early summer.


      PS: I just got home from work and discovered a comment from Bonnie Anderson on the “Cuban Gold” piece. I think you would appreciate her reflections.

  15. What a stunning beauty! And that last photo! The blossoms look like ribbon candy…

    Cheers for Lady Bird. She would be just as pleased.

    I had a few of those “torch” cacti, although I didn’t know that’s what they were at the time. They never bloomed, I never fed them. I gave them away and one day one of them fell over and broke. The new owner was joyous to report that break caused the cactus to bud and bloom. I never got to see it. I would not, of course, recommend breaking a cactus to get it to bloom, but then someone out there may explain why this happened.

    1. Martha,

      What a great description! I never would have seen it had you not mentioned it. I’d thought they looked rather satiny, but I was thinking of fabric rather than pulled candy.

      We’re so lucky to have had Lady Bird’s influence here in Texas. Apart from everything else, she was greatly responsible for the road beautification projects. I read once about the amount of wild flower seed the Dept. of Transportation puts out every year. It really is remarkable.

      That’s interesting about the breakage/bloom sequence. I wonder if it’s like the business of some plants (like bougainvillea) blooming more prolifically once they’re root-bound. It’s a good example of what the psychology folks call eustress – good stress. Too bad we don’t bloom better when we’re stressed!


      1. You bring up an important point. When plants are stressed they will often attempt to go to seed so that they will carry on the family name. Plants do a lot of interesting things when stressed. People? Cookies, generally.

  16. Thanks for this grand post. Your injunction that “in the presence of unexpected beauty, we should take time to pause and appreciate” is such an important part of a life well lived. Kudos to cacti and friends that lead us deeper into the mystery of beauty!

    1. Allen,

      You know, now that I have all that Occupy business off my chest, I could even imagine the yarn bombers’ work providing precisely that kind of experience – a moment of unexpected beauty. ;-)

      The “unexpected” can be as important as the “beauty”, of course, and that’s why the pause is as difficult as it sometimes is. We’re busy, after all. We’ve got important things on that to-do list! Who can slow down for even five minutes?

      Did you happen to read about musician Joshua Bell’s experiment in the Washington, DC subway? The “Washington Post” 2007 piece about it titled it “Pearls Before Breakfast” . It’s a funny title, and an apropos article.


      1. Glad to hear you’re feeling better about Occupy! As for the Joshua Bell piece, that is simply amazing. I think it illustrates perfectly your
        point about the importance of the unexpected. I had not seen that, so thanks so much for sharing it with me. I love street musicians,but generally don’t give them the time they deserve. I always try to smile at them though.

  17. I see your Godot as a metaphor for a person trapped in an unhappy static environment who is suddenly brought out into the “sun shine” of love and acceptance and blooms like your beautiful cactus. Clever and delightful post as usual.

    1. kayti,

      Isn’t that just the truth? Anyone who’s paid attention to people knows how important a rich environment is for children (and others!) to bloom.

      On the other hand, sometimes just the opposite can be true. Too much love in the form of water, fertilizer and rich soil can lead to an early demise for a cactus. In the same way, too much fussing over someone who’s judged to have “potential” can slow down the natural blooming process. While “bloom where you are planted” has a certain wisdom, it’s always helpful to plant ourselves in the right place.


  18. I love Godot’s story, his name and his unassuming ways, and I was happy to see that we were going to get an update on him.

    When I told my mother that I wished Christmas came every month, she told me, “Then it wouldn’t be so special.” Godot knows what special is. Keep them wanting and they always come back for more. So nice that you preserved his brief glory for us.

    1. Bella Rum,

      That’s it, exactly – “unassuming ways”. No countdown clock for him, no grand “preview of coming attractions”. He just sits and sits and sits, keeping his counsel until it’s time for the show.

      Don’t you think every child in the world has wished for Christmas-every-month? We can’t help wanting to extend or duplicate the special times in life, and yet your mother (and mine, and probably most mothers in the world) are right to say, “Then it wouldn’t be so special”.

      Some things just have to be enjoyed, and then let go. There’s always something else coming.


  19. Loved the story and the pictures of Godot, Linda. Only quirky you would think of that name for a cactus. It’s a pity S. Beckett is no longer with us. I feel sure he would have approved….

    I’m going to share the opposite kind of story (but with a happy botanical ending eventually). Many years ago someone who did not know me very well gave me a present of a very beautiful bonsai tree rooted in a gorgeously glazed pottery dish. Little did he know that my inner reaction was one of utter consternation: I knew how expensive these trees are, and how temperamental they can be. But I am an inadvertent plant killer. No matter how nice I try to be to them, they sicken and die on me.

    Sure enough, despite my TLC, after a few days Mr Bonsai started to shed a few leaves. This went on, no matter how hard I tried to please. Eventually I lost patience, stood over him and shouted “I’m fed up of you! You are an ungrateful creature!”

    The next day to my extreme guilt, a large drift of fallen leaves lay all around him and his gorgeous base.

    However, a knight in shining armour appeared in the shape of a young tradesman to do some joinery work in our house. Long story short, he loved plants, was overjoyed at acquiring an expensive bonsai which he could not have afforded, took Mr Bonsai home with him, and placing him in a sunny conservatory. And they lived together very happily – and leafily – ever after…..

  20. I agree with so many comments here – you definitely do a remarkable job of personifying this cactus! I almost feel like I “know” Godot. Perhaps its because, like Godot, I only really blossom and thrive in the city, too –

    1. oursandwichdays,

      I can see it now – a new series titled “Cactus in the City”. Think it would fly?

      I’m glad you enjoyed the piece, and meeting Godot. It was fun bringing him to life. Several people have responded by saying the same thing in different ways – we all thrive better in some places than others, and learning where we need to be is critical.


  21. What a sweet story and reminder to us all…. (Hee, you’re so clever with the name, love it). And regardless, Godot is just fetching. Gorgeous Godot.

  22. This one brings a big smile to me, as I remember a class I took in Irish literature, and how I struggled to make sense of that crazy play. :)

    1. Bill,

      Personally, I never was that fond of the play, but at least it gave me the perfect name for my little cactus – and a good story, too. I’m always glad to provide a smile!


    1. kayti,

      Your comment did show up here, just above. If you can’t see my response there, let me know and I’ll repost it here. WordPress can be wonky sometimes, as we all know.


  23. Ooh Godot is fabulous! What lovely blooms – and the rainy ones are the best (Monet!). I think it’s so true that beauty can happen anywhere, anytime, sun or rain. We just have to be ready for it.

    1. The Bug,

      I thought the other photos were fabulous, until I saw the one where he’s decorated with the rain. I like your Monet association and especially could see it after you mentioned it.

      For some reason, I’m thinking about the Tax Time Pig – he may not be “beautiful” in any conventional sense, but he’s funny and delightful, and always worthy of notice. It ought to be about time for him to be shaded by a big beach umbrella and a pair of sunglasses, don’t you think?


  24. Reading about Godot in the cabin reminded me of Dorothy Sayers’ last Lord Peter and Harriet book Busman’s Honeymoon where a potted cactus played a part in the central murder. I smiled all the way through your introduction of Godot’s sanguine growth habits. And those images of his blooms made me think, “He loves you!”

    1. nikkipolani,

      Now you have me curious to read the book, to see what part the cactus might have played. I believe I’ll put in on the lazy-summer-afternoon reading list.

      Given your understanding of plants, I’m not surprised Godot’s growth habits caught your attention. As for his love and devotion – people always contend that rescued cats and dogs are the most affectionate, purring and tail-wagging their way through life. Who knows? Those blossoms may be the botanical equivalent!


  25. These are amazing flowers! I’ve never seen cactus flowers so beautiful. Did you take all these close-ups? And so interesting too, that Godot is a good teacher. Love these Godot posts.

    I just came back from Vancouver having spent the last week there. And I can see what you see all the time: Great Blue Herons… half a dozen of them, albeit from afar. We sure live in different worlds. Vancouver is just 1.5 hr. of plane ride away, but so different from Cowtown in its natural environs.

    1. Arti,

      I just was thinking about you today. I’d missed the Saturday photography post – and now I think I know why. You were flying, yourself! I’m so glad you got away, and eager to see what you brought back in your suitcase for us.

      Were your herons in a flock? I rarely see them gathered. One or two at a time is common. Sandhill cranes, ibis and cormorants are something else. And of course the ducks. There are mallard babies everywhere now, peeping away.

      For some reason, through all of this I’ve not thought of the film “Cactus Flower” . It’s quite old, actually, with Ingrid Bergman, Walter Matthau and Goldie Hawn in starring roles. Maybe I should keep it in mind for summer viewing!

      I did take the photos, using the macro setting on my camera. I had a little trouble with the one taken in the rain, trying to get all of the blooms in, but it worked out pretty well.

      Now, it’s time to settle back and see what next year brings. And speaking of years – happy 6th anniversary! That’s a lot of books, films, museums and general life-sharing – and your readers appreciate every minute of the effort you put into it for us!


  26. When we moved to this higher elevation we had to leave Godot’s family and friends behind.. Lovely photos! I have a friend that has had the same African Violet for 20 years or longer. Surely she has a name..

    1. Roberta,

      Ah, the great micro-climate connundrum! It actually was my mother’s flock of African violets that taught me how significant even the smallest change could be. The violets hadn’t done anything for her. They wouldn’t grow, they didn’t bloom. They didn’t die. They were pretty much like Godot, now that I think of it.

      She said, either you take these things or I’m throwing them out. I couldn’t let that happen, so I took them. I still have four of them, after giving the rest away, and they’re doing beautifully. The only thing is, I have to put them in a closet and block the door at night, or my cat will nibble on the leaves. It took me a while to figure out where all those holes were coming from.


  27. Godot is a Cactus?
    Well, I’ll have to read the play with that in mind.
    My mother-in-law had a cactus with similar white spines all over. I don’t know where it is nor that it ever flowered.
    Great close-up photos and the flowers are well worth waiting for.

    1. Ken,

      Maybe that’s why Godot never showed up. I’d think a cactus would move very, very slowly.

      I’m really amazed by the number of cactus varieties, and the remarkable flowers that some of them sport. As a kid in Iowa, about the only cactus we ever saw were those little ones in the dime store. Occasionally I’d bring one home with me, but it never lived very long. I suspect we watered the things to death.

      I’m glad you liked the photos. The flowers are worth waiting for, but with a year between blooms, I often forget that I’m watching for them. Then, it really is a surprise when they show up. Of course, this is akin to hiding one’s own Easter eggs, and other such signs of the downward slide. ;)


  28. Well, hello, Godot! Lovelier (handsomer?) this year than ever. Yes, indeed, you are a lesson to expect the unexpected–and never to underestimate the unassuming. Thank you, friend plant.

    And thank you, friend writer.

    1. ds,

      What a wonderful surprise to find you blooming here this morning! It’s been a pleasure to see you posting again, too. I hope all is well in your world, and that spring’s helping those poetic juices to start flowing again.


  29. Beautifully written, very poetic. I can picture the land so well…..sounds lovely! Your photos are fantastic, with the last one being my favorite. I live in the Texas Hill Country, and I often overlook the Godot Echinocereus reichenbachii in favor of the flashy the Prickly Pear or King’s Crown cacti, which are wonderfully photogenic. I think I shall take another look and see if I can catch Godot’s brethren on their brief but special days. Perhaps when it is raining, I shall water-proof myself and my Nikon and made a mad dash around the property. ;O)

    Thanks for your inspiration!

    1. Office Diva,

      I’ve done just a little research the past week or so, and discovered several varieties of cactus around the Hill Country that could be easily overlooked. They tend to be small, unlike the prickly pear, which often seems to be waving its arms, saying, “Look at me!” And of course varieties like the prickly pear put on many more blossoms over a longer period of time.

      If you’ve not come across a Texas wildflower blog called Portraits of Wildflowers, I’m sure you’d enjoy it. I’ve learned so much about our flowers there, and there are lots of good photographers trading tips.

      Thanks so much for stopping by, and for your gracious comment. You’re welcome any time!


      1. Ohhh, that was a great referral for the Texas wildflowers. Thanks so much, I know that will help me a lot. I just love wildflowers, so simple and uncomplicated. That’s life the way I like it! Thanks again for your assistance!

  30. Not only does not every cactus get to bloom in the rain, but not every cactus gets such a wonderful owner, that’s for sure. I started with trying to pick out a favorite line from this piece, but there were just too many! I don’t know anyone else who could relate a story about a cactus that expresses so much about what it means to be, well, human is the word that comes to mind. Pretty clever, shoreacres, but then we’ve come to expect that from you!

    1. Susan,

      Since writing this, I’ve noticed something I missed while the piece was “in process”. There’s a plot here of sorts, some character development, a little dramatic tension and a resolution. It wouldn’t be entirely far-fetched to call this a story. This has been a bit of a revelation to me. It also tickles me, and suggests a paraphrase of the very old joke about engineers: “Yesterday, I couldn’t even spell writer, and now I are one.” It also suggests “writing a story” might be a lot easier than all those writers of guidebooks and holders of conferences suggest. After all, the more difficult they make it seem, the more how-to books they’ll sell!

      As for how a story about a cactus could express something about being human – don’t you think it comes down to relationship? Crazy as it sounds, I not only cultivated the cactus, I cultivated a relationship with “him”. Just imagine what the world would be like if such attentive and constant relationships were the norm.


  31. I almost forgot to return to comment. I so wanted to make my comment a special one since this post was about one of my favorite plants- the cacti. The plants whether small or gigantic are resolute and forbidding with beautiful flowers. Cactus seem to be in a rush to get the blooming thing over with as if to say, “I must hurry so that I can rest now and return to sleep.” I gather that you are quite fond of the little man, Godot. Truly he has seen a lot as he has moved with you. He certanly has responded to kindness shown by repaying you with his flowery display of appreciation.


    1. Yvonne,

      I am fond of Godot. Not only that, I’m quite fond of his friend, Godette, who’s going to have her own tale told next.

      Your description of cacti as “resolute and forbidding” with “beautiful flowers” reminds me of the prototypical “strong, silent type” who often was the hero in Westerns. Or, the gruff, grizzled old sidekick who’s the best ranch midwife in three states. Somewhere, I read a description of a rancher who wasn’t afraid to stop and tend an injured bird while riding the fences. That’s Godot.

      And you know – I don’t really think he’s been blooming to please me. I think he just can’t help himself. It’s a part of his nature.


  32. Linda,

    It is marvelous that Godot has shown it has some tough spunk. What is even more noteworthy is your patience. I like that you didn’t stop letting it savour the ‘home-cooking’, even though, at some point, you’d thought of it as an ‘under-achiever’. That’s a fantastic trait. Congratulations! For that, and also the in-rain blossoming.

    1. finelighttree,

      Patience is a virtue, especially for parents, educators, nature-lovers and folks dedicated to effecting change of any sort. Besides, if my parents had stopped feeding me when I gave evidence of opting for under-achievement – well, that wouldn’t have been so good, now would it?

      Godot’s tough by nature. That’s what allowed him to survive all those years in his little basket, all by himself. Now? He’s still tough, but he doesn’t have to work so hard at it. That makes me happy, too.


    1. Andrew,

      Isn’t he a fine fellow? I’ve been thinking I should change my twitter profile to include the phrase “talks to cactus”. Who knows what anyone would make of that?

      I’m glad you enjoyed it – this one has a sequel, actually. I just popped it up, so you can read all about Godot and Godette!


  33. The photo of the three flowers is spectacular! You took one beautiful photo!
    I have known about Godot for a couple of years and so am familiar with the story. He sure is one determined fellow, he does things at his pleasure and on a schedule of his personal choice. He has the courage to be unique!


    1. Maria,

      That’s high praise, coming from you. Your flower photos have been getting better and better – I don’t always comment on them, but I certainly enjoy them. For one thing, they’re nice reminders of my childhood and youth, when I was surrounded by the kinds of flowers you have, and simply aren’t possible down here.

      Godot’s in charge of his own life, no question about that. I thought it was such a delight that he got rained on this time around. Maybe even a cactus gets tired of drought, sometimes!

      So good to see you. I hope your day was fine. I’m sure you were out and about doing something to honor Raindad!


  34. The best plants are the ones that come to you as Godot did. And that scrambling at the last minute to not forget that one sounds familiar. You just have to take care of them – it’s entrusted to you.

    (Godot looks a little like a ZZ Top fan?)

    A little plant guy that lives the philosophy “It takes its own time.” If we all had that conviction and faith.
    The flower rewards are beautiful in the pictures…a nice grouping would be so congenial.
    Great story.

    1. Phil,

      Oh, my heavens! I’m a ZZ Top fan! But I take your point. What did occur to me is that ZZ Top might have just the song for Godot. Don’t you think “Sharp-Dressed Man would do? Now, if you want the Billy Gibbons of cactus, how about this one?

      “All in due time” was something I heard a lot of a kid. Also, “when the time is right”. It was decades later I learned there’s a difference between chronos and kairos, and not everything in life is determined by the clock. Thank goodness!

      You’re right about that scrambling and caring. It’s what links cactus rescue to cat and dog rescue, after all. ;)


  35. It’s easy to think of a cactus as a weird little plant. But then, isn’t much of life in general (even ours) similar to Godot’s — “A whole lot of nothing” punctuated by brief and spectacular blossoms? Thank you for this valuable reminder, Linda. If we don’t slow down and pay attention, we could easily miss the important things.

    1. Charles,

      And now you’ve reminded me of the wonderful description of sailing: “Long periods of utter boredom, interspered with moments of complete panic”. It’s really the same dynamic, and a good reminder that life has rhythms, some fairly obvious but some so subtle we might miss them without that attentiveness you mention.

      And of course there’s this – even weird, prickly little people can produce some wonderful things, if only we give them a chance. In fact, the weird ones sometimes produce the best things!


  36. I remember your story about your little cactus and loved it. You painted such a vivid one of him then, and this one is as vivid and more so than the last. How wonderful that not only did he bloom again three beautiful blossoms all at the same time, but he is writing his own healthy history over his years. His lovely white lace coat, seems to be quiet assurance of the state of his health the other months of the year.

    I can’t help but think this is a very healthy symbiotic relationship you have going here. We will go about our business for another year of months and perhaps we’ll be blessed and surprised with another blooming update on Godot, or we may see him as in the first photo…either way we will know his history and appreciate him and remember his “accomplishments.” I could cheer “Go, Godot, go” but I also want to wish him “Take care, Godot.” Such is the affection you inspire in this wonderful story.

    1. Georgette,

      It’s only occurred to me recently that I lost another opportunity by focusing my camera only on his blooms. If I’d taken a photo of him when he first came home, and was sitting in his pot just three inches high, I could offer quite a comparison with his current ten inches! Which is another way of reminding ourselves of another, quite important lesson: blooms are important, but without day-to-day growth, they never would happen.

      It just tickles me to hear you say some affection for Godot has been inspired by his story. Perhaps instead of arguing, ranting and name-calling, those who are concerned with the state of the planet as a whole should devote a bit more time to story-telling. If we could inspire more affection for this wonderful planet, people might be more willing to change some behaviors.

      And now, I’m thinking of your grandson. If you plant that new tomato, what about a name? A story? That could be fun, too!


  37. Godot is a BEAUTIFUL speciman. I don’t have one exactly like him in my garden….And it is interesting to know that Texas is his Homeland, so to speak…..The Flowers are utterly Sublime,,,Cactus Flowers are such a gift from Nature, That Godot’s flowers only last that One Day makes them just that much more special, doesn’t it? I have a lot of “One Day Wonders”….and even some ‘One Night Wonders’….I love the design of dear Godot….He is a GREAT Beauty!

    1. OldOldLady,

      The great variety of cacti just delights me. I’ve only started paying attention to them in the past few years, but they certainly reward my somewhat casual style of plant care! I have friends who fuss and fuss over roses, for example. They’re hard to grow here, or at least they’re susceptible to plenty of disease and so on. No – I’d rather have some nice natives who like heat, humidity and a little alone time!

      I have a friend in Southern California who has night-blooming cereus and some other wonderful plants. I think you folks are so lucky – it appears your growing conditions are just great.

      Thanks so much for stopping by and visiting Godot. You’re always welcome!


  38. I wanted to say that my entire Garden, upstairs and down below is ALL Cactus and Succulents. If I could I would have more and more, but because of Health issues, I can no longer go out into the world. I LOVED visiting all the Nursery’s that are devoted to Cactus and Succulents. The variety is simply amazing! LIVING SCULPTURES I call them. I can no longer go down into my beloved Garden underneath my house, either, because I am unable to do stairs. And it is ALL stairs. I miss visiting everything more than I can say.

    I took hundreds of pictures when I could. I also made a Video of the Garden around 1996, if memory serves. I’m so glad I did because as with every living thing, these plants are subject to disease and all sorts of dangers, like a Fungus creeping through the soil. I lost 45 or more plants, that year. It was a terrible disaster and left me quite depressed. They are like my children, in a way. I think you will find yourself more and more ‘in love’ as time goes on. There is so much out there and ALL Beautiful! I will have to look ‘on line’ for a Godot of my own. I think it would do quite well here. So happy to find a kindred spirit, my dear!

    1. OldOldLady,

      It’s hard to cope with the physical limitations that come along, isn’t it? Now and then I manage to do something silly to myself, and it’s always a good reminder that (1) I need to be more careful and (2) others don’t have the luxury of just healing up.

      I had a friend in California who lost all of her lithops . It was hard for her, too. Here’s to good health for you and your plants!


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