I realize you probably do not want to hear about the time I stole a cactus and coerced FringeMan to help me carry out this evil deed, but I feel compelled to fess-up to this crime in hopes of absolving myself from bad memories. Although I am forgiven, it is sometimes difficult to forget, and cactus memories tend to be prickly.
It all started when we moved to Florida so FringeMan could attend Bible college. I know how ironic it must sound that I begin my tale with FringeMan, aka Cactus Thief, and The Bible; however, the flesh is weak, no matter how willing the Spirit. Besides, you have no idea the grand plan I concocted for a little patch of dirt in my front yard.
One day I painted the front of my block, one-story ranch, a green that would be appropriate for Tinkerbell if she lived in the Caribbean. The next day I was digging cacti up from the beachfront. What happened to my sanity in the space of about twelve hours is still unclear. All I remember is driving out to the beach for a clandestine meeting with a plant.
We waited until after dark, buckling the babies into their car seats and driving off into the night. The breeze mangling my hair through open windows. If I tell you I went with good intentions and a pure heart, I am sure you would not believe me. I do not even believe those lies. The truth is I wanted a cactus and I would break plant and wildlife protection laws to get one. Now I do not remember ever stealing anything as a child. They say we all do, but if I did, I was too young to retain the memory of evil. “Thou shalt not steal” was written across my mind as much as it was my heart. No, it wasn’t until well into adulthood that the temptation to steal entered my pure thoughts. Once it did, my black heart clung to it like ‘theft’ would instantly cure my yard of diseased landscaping.
Lest you turn me directly over to the authorities, I want to say I was certain (CERTAIN) there were cacti growing wildly on public (PUBLIC) land. I spied them on my many beach excursions; however, in reality the lines between public, private, and protected blur in the dark of night. Moonlight alone cannot draw definitive lines in the sand.
Raw exuberance pumped through my veins as we drove up and down the strip of beach. Landscapes appeared as if they were teleported from the desert to the hotel, from the tropical rainforest to the condo. Salt air roused my senses as opportunity stole my common sense.
“There! That one!” I pointed past FringeMan’s nose and into the bushes.
I remember him telling me he absolutely would not steal a plant from the front of the Hilton.
Finally, we settled on a few mid-size ordinary cacti growing ‘wildly’ in the proximity of very public tennis courts. They haphazardly poked from the sand without unity, beckoning my imagination to give them a well-laid, nurturing home of love.
FringeMan could have been a night battling a fiery dragon, but he was my landscaper shoveling mounds of pokey sand into a five gallon pail. In that moment I loved him from the follicles of my crazy hair to the polish of my flip-flopped toes.
On the ride home, we experienced tremendous guilt followed by bouts of hysteria. If the county, state, or beachside rotary were responsible for planting those cacti, I apologize from the depths of my soul. They did appear wild, not endangered in the least. I don’t know the first thing about plant and wildlife laws. For all I know removing plants from the beach is perfectly legal.
Ignorance is bliss; however, stealing from private land is NEVER a good option. I promise we did not take the cacti from private land.
I can imagine FringeMan in his rocker, I off my rocker, reliving the ‘good ol’ days’ – those days of plant thieving. As un-Christian-like as it may be, I hope I remember that night when I am old.
I hope you understand I do not generally go around digging up plants on public or private land. This was a one time act of reckless abandon. I am not proud that I may have transgressed conservation laws, but I must laugh at my own stupidity sometimes.