Dreams are powerful tools that can help guide anyone to success and happiness. They represent some cherished aspiration, an ultimate ideal of achievement.

The word sylvan refers most directly to a setting associated with the woods. Reflecting on the vigorous life that abounds in sylvan settings is a very powerful force in my life. For me, this word evokes feelings of transcendence, clarity, and unity.

A Sylvan Dream is a dynamic compilation of my life dream. It is an attempt to seek out and document the truth, beauty, and clarity that exists in this world.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Prickly Pear


Despite all of the second hand stories and writings of Abbey-esque desert rats, I needed to discover for myself the annoyance of prickly pear. I was tired of hiking around the dry grass foothill fields, dodging prickly pear with every step, avoiding its sting based just on other’s stories. The purplish pink “pears” looked like some drug-induced cartoon of a cactus creature’s foot; some cheap pun for the phrase, “don’t tread on me.” I had heard of their sweet taste, and of the spiny tines left in the mouths of the unwary, but I was a little thirsty, and figured I needed to know now that if I was out here and lost, could I eat this thing to live or not?
I crouched down over one looking closely at the white spines whirling around below the pears, and then noticed the tufts of minute spines spiraling the pear itself like a staircase. They looked soft and fuzzy, with red points sticking out. I brushed my finger over one, and looked closely at my calloused fingerprint to see more than fifteen spines stuck in my skin. I tried to imagine the fiberglass feel of them sticking into my gums.
Thinking that there was some chance of my fingers avoiding these spines, I twisted one of the cartoon toes off the flattened foot, and held it close. It would be completely stupid to pop it in my mouth, so I squeezed it, hoping some sweet juice would come out. A greenish brown mix between guts and snot oozed copiously from the opening at the base of the pear, and I sucked it into my mouth after inspecting it for spines. I rolled it around in my mouth, separating the hard pebble-seeds from the slimy pulp. They were pleasing. I kept squeezing the pear until more than thirty seeds oozed from it, and until my efforts became less valuable than the slimy ooze coating my mouth. I bit off a piece of the flesh and spit it out. Rolling my tongue around in my mouth, I was amazed to find no pain. I bit another piece of the flesh off and chewed it. It reminded me of a sun-warmed strawberry, but I still spit it out, worrying about minute spines. I squeezed the pear one last time for one more taste of its guts, and the telling sting of cactus spines rang through my index finger. I guess that extra squeeze was all those little spines needed to weasel their way through my calloused fingers into softer flesh below. I tried to pull them out, but it was too late, the spines were sunken and hooked, stationary and painful.
I threw the pear away, and continued walking down the hill, wondering how to get the spines out of my finger. As I was thinking that I would always go hiking in cactus country with tweezers from now on, I felt them, in my mouth. The soft skin around these intruders of my lips and gums began to harden in rejection, and that is how I found the tiny points sticking in my mouth. The few I found sticking out of my lips, I was lucky enough to maneuver with my tongue and teeth to pull them out. The rest in my tongue and gums next to my teeth had to wait. Hiking down the trail, I was considering chewing on a stick to try and take my mind off the pain, as though that perhaps it would break up the evil spines scattered all over my mouth, but the grasshoppers popping back and forth across the trail distracted me. When I got home I pulled my tongue out and inspected the lumps on it. Only one still had the spine attached, but as soon as I grabbed it, the top snapped off. Well, what now?
If I was hungry and lost in the desert, I would probably be stupid enough to try it again. Someone would probably find my stinking and bloated body lying under a tree with a gnawed piece of dead, sun-bleached juniper stick lying next to me, and a mouthful of soggy wood splinters. The best part of the experience was spitting the seeds like a gun at objects off the trail as I walked home. I felt pleasantly content in spreading hopes for the future of such a well-evolved plant. Even as I write this, I am trying to pull another spine I just found from the inside wall of my mouth.