Interview with a Grower [series]

“My mom died when I was 5. A car accident on the LA Freeway. It was just my dad and me. He had a good friend up here who he turned to, you know, his whole world upside down. The guy was a big ganja farmer. He took us in and he helped my dad get all set up. So, we moved to the hills, well the coastal mountains, but it’s like the hills really. In so many ways. Making money like that gave my dad – us – a way of life up here.”

This grower is a beautiful woman. The much admired Humboldt bird in her prime, and that lasts awhile for some. No makeup, golden brown skin, lovely curves lined by skirt and tank, her legs and pits are shaved (waxed perhaps, she seems like a waxer), hair tousled. It is notably sexy, but luck just had that for her. I bet she doesn’t even try. Only enjoys herself and that exudes. In my experience, women can appreciate this in each other, really share the enjoyment of beauty. A totally sensual exchange with other women that is not sexual. Her company makes me feel extra pretty, a woman like this does that to you.

The recorder was on, set between us on the table. Her start had stopped right there, as if that was the story, nice and simple. Brush your hands off and shake your head. “You came into the family business?” I ask.

She laughs, it is a full laugh and she is a little blushed. “Yeah, like the family farm. Right. Been in the family for a generation. Now two.” Her smile settles in. “But my dad did set me up and I’ll tell you, there are so many details to know. He gave me a gift.”Screen Shot 2015-09-08 at 9.21.55 PM

“I went to college. I think we both thought I might find a better way. But this was a good living and I love this place. There isn’t another place I want to live. And farming is good, healthy work. I can’t imagine working a regular work week inside, doing something that I don’t care about. I care about each and every one of my ladies. I do. And that is the golden rule. Kinda for all of life, right, but here I mean for growing weed. It is just about keeping them healthy and happy, seeing that their needs are taken care of from root hairs to growth tips. You watch, observe, try to predict. The soil, moisture, heat, nutrients, air, and water. Water. The source of life. We can survive days without water before we die, but weeks without food. We are like 60% water. My plants need water, our crops need water. The crops in the Central Valley need – wait for it – OUR water. Cities like LA need our water – because there are millions of people trying to live it up in the desert and they have totally contaminated all their groundwater. Really, really gross contaminated it. All the toxic backlash of the sin and nastiness of LA. And what an oasis that LA is. I have to admit, I like the bling and party. I live off one of the back highways around here. We all do – the main branch of the road that all of our driveways turn to dirt off of, or off a smaller main branch that reaches more properties and their dirt drives. The highways that connect all of rural Humboldt between, there are only so many main through-roads we all live off of around here. It used to be quiet. People drove crazy and too fast, but quiet. Last 5 years or so it has become busy.

Water trucks back and forth all the time. Weed highway. I guess there are more people living out here or something. The smaller farms are shouting for mom and pop rights next to the crazy huge organized crime grows. And everyone needs water from the rivers and their watersheds. It isn’t a good trade off in some ways.”

Now the grower looks at me, it is what we all hear about and know. It is the line of a livelihood; it is the history of farming from the beginning, the first canals dug from a natural channel of water. Diverting the flow to irrigate settlements. Depending on water. We both pick up our glasses. Cocktails glasses to be more specific. We had found a place on the mostly deserted patio in a back corner under a tree. Under an umbrella in the afternoon heat, a private corner in the world. Our glasses were dripping condensation. They left water rings where they had sat, the ice was almost done melting.

“Truthfully, things can get pretty intense out there. The season has its turning points. Light dep has brought a lot of change in the last ten years, but there is still the real danger time at the end. When you have a cash crop ready. A lot of money, a lot of transients and workers coming in. For sure, there is tension all along. People still get busted, or some disease can hit your stuff and really hurt you. There are a lot of people who have nothing to lose you know. But the end is always the craziest. A lot of money and ready for money. And guns, it’s the Wild West still in some ways. It’s not legal yet, and there is, what is supposedly, easy money to be made. I could tell you some stories about robberies and crazy people. Bad busts. Oh my god, there have been some crazy times.

“I try to keep my scene on the low, low. My property secured and my neighbors – I love my neighbors. They can make or break you for sure. Mostly we are separate but together you know. We all have an idea of what looks normal on all our boundaries, but we don’t all hang out either. I actually do, that’s how lucky I am, but I grew up here and was able to buy property because of the neighbors. I also have a killer work crew – that is another source of security or opposite of security if you are stupid or just get fucked – and we all do. Get fucked, I mean.” Our drinks are empty and it’s time for a second round. The grower smiled. I smiled.

“I guess getting fucked has that really great meaning too.” She winked.

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