Schlumbergera’s ability to lift spirits

From my holiday letter of 1998:

My Christmas cactus hasn’t bloomed this year. Alas, I don’t think I can attribute that to the strange weather. I “pruned” it last summer and I think I must have killed it, ironic given the fact that the fellow, from whose giant cactus I spliced it fifteen or twenty years ago, died this year. The original plant was well over forty years old, as I recall.

Fast forward to today and the cactus is flowering with one bright bloom and at least nine more very promising buds – all of this in the warmest November I can remember.

This cactus originated from a cutting, at least twenty-one years ago, of a plant well over forty years old at that time which filled a good part of a sliding door in St. Catharines. If I recall it was roughly the same age as Warren, who died there several years ago, who would easily be sixty now. Warren Hartman was a Professor of Fine Arts at Brock University and I roomed in his house as a struggling reporter and gay activist.

So Warren, as you raise a glass of red among the spirits, I toast you with my mug of coffee! The frilly blooms of my cactus are dedicated to you.