Friday, April 17, 2015

Harvest on… hooves?

You may remember last spring, when I returned home from my Flatistan Tour of Duty, Li’l Burro and I took a celebratory ride in the desert.

This year*, I once again find myself savoring the wonders of springtime from the saddle.  The blooming desert is almost too glorious to bear**. Oh, happy homecoming!

Easter Hike Hugh Norris-Sendero Esperanza-Dobe Wash-Hohokam Road 044

Eventually, the gaudy display does become unbearable. I may have stomped my foot angrily, and said a little too loudly, to no one in particular: "Would you just look at this ridiculousness?!"***

Easter Hike Hugh Norris-Sendero Esperanza-Dobe Wash-Hohokam Road 059

Cholla blooms outshine their younger siblings, but it’s worth taking notice of the plain green buds, because…

Cholla Harvesting (2)
Can you see the shimmery bead of sap at the base of each bud's thorn?

… you can eat ‘em!  It helps to travel properly equipped****.  Depending on the length of your tongs, harvesting the buds can feel downright dangerous.

Cholla Harvesting (4)

My ride is right at home amongst the wildflowers.

Junior and Wildflowers 002

Not what you expected, eh?*****

* I've been home about a month now.  For a probably never to be blogged Flatistan Eating/Kayaking/Unmotorized slide show, click here.
**Springtime in the Sonoran Desert is not without its dangers. Pilot Guy documented one of our encounters last month
***Seriously, it's ridiculous. For more photos, see here.
****Toss the ciolim, as they are called by the Tohono O'odham, vigorously in a mesh strainer to knock off their spines. Stand upwind!  Or singe or roast them off, if you prefer. You must boil the buds for at least 15 minutes to denature their oxalic acid, and, incidentally, release a wealth of calcium!  I think I'll use mine in a pico de gallo to go with some heavily spiced tepary bean hummus I made recently.
***** Introducing “Junior!”  Li'l Burro can't wait to meet him!  Truth be told, I've been riding Junior sporadically since September, but this week I have officially leased half of him for the next two months. I'll actually be home!  I'll save you the trouble of asking: I'm leasing the left half. Never fear, the iron horses are still being exercised...