“We will have to work this carefully,” the grower said as he sat down. His body frame filled the wood chair as the warm summer air breezed by. The big sun hat I wore that day barely kept the late afternoon off my face.
With birds singing and a distant dog barking in the back, I began the interview.
The deck and house, were of a beautiful vantage. “I would like to record the interview, if you are comfortable with that. I will erase it as soon as I get the story written,” I told the grower.
“Ok,” the Grower answered with no contemplation, as if he had thought as much. I touched the screen and set the smart phone on the glass table.
“I like this idea. To be able to share my story, the very story I have spent so long protecting for my life, my family’s safety. Things have changed a whole lot in the last 20 years. I mean, for me to sit here like this. But you’ll have to weave fabrications all around me, fact dressed up as fiction. Humboldt can be so small. You know.” I nodded in agreement; glad to have it said.
He rolled a joint as a measure of thought. Big, rough hands, the simple gold band looked like part of his ring finger. His hands had seen a lot of labor and dirt in his time. From the joint there were thick streams of smoke. He lingered, kind bud filling the air. He passed it over. “I was always pushing the edges,” he said. “Searching, now that I think about it. For something bigger than life. No, for the feeling of being a bigger life. Excitement, challenge. Being high. High being. That attainment of something fantastic, magic. Beyond the busywork of mainstream society. Growing weed has been perfect for me that way, you know? There is really a clear edge of perception, intentionally choosing to do something against the law. When you weigh the pros and cons with open eyes and that risk is worth it. Have to have that risk or the job wouldn’t offer its worth in, what is for me, freedom.”
The Grower turns sly. He shows teeth in amusement. It is a handsome smile, one that seems to be whole body and natural. Self-possessed, it eases the atmosphere. “I figure life is chaos, but chaos is geometrical pattern, every bit of it unique, like snowflakes. Life is nonsense, a mystery, but living in it you see the geometry, the patterns, the blessings. So, this plant came into my life. Maybe I chose it, by the circles that appealed to me. Maybe it chose me by drawing me to those circles. Maybe it could have been a million other happen stances, maybe I could have chosen a million other life paths. This one gave me so much time though. I work hard, I do. But it is a job that I can work around life. I get paid well and I make my own hours. I live in paradise, I get to choose the people I spend my time with,” he said. “And I smoke weed. I mean, I think a lot of growers don’t these days. Used to be, well, the scene I grew up in, most everyone smoked weed. These days so many business guys are just drinkers, maybe party dabblers but not potheads. Me, I smoke almost every day, for as many years as I could. Other folks drink a beer-or-so almost every night, or have their cocktail. I just prefer weed. I think it goes well with my chemistry, and I enjoy it.”
“For me it isn’t a big deal. I know there are medicinal properties of the plant, there are a lot of powerful plants in this world and Ganja is definitely strong in its connection with people. For a long time too. It should be used to heal, we should look around us a lot more at all the plants. That said, for me, it is recreation. I’m sure it affects me – like different foods, vitamins, tinctures, coffee, sugar, alcohol, or pharmaceuticals, or pollution – but it is a luxury. A luxury that enriches my life. One that has been such a part of my life.”
The grower continued, “Now we are on this cusp where folks are kind of realizing the hype. So it is starting to go legal. All around the industry it’s exploding, everyone is hustling to find their place and profit. Like the Netherlands, most of the country isn’t into it, but you can find coffee houses, stores and growers openly here and there. Legal ease. It seems silly that it was ever illegal. How crazed we got over it while we embrace the pharmaceutical industry. Well anything corporate really – wait. I digress. I mean if alcohol is legal. I have had some harsh drinking bouts – all I’ve ever done on too much smoke is go to sleep. Things may get hazy, but it isn’t a blackout. And alcohol has its medicinal power too. But, get into pharmaceuticals and things start getting real weird. But then that’s the thing, we keep trying to make sense of society and make laws and understand. Make it work, you know, mostly. When so much of life is perception of power.”
His pause is abrupt. “I’m honest. Growing weed isn’t some harmonious eco-conscious life choice. I pull a lot off of damned rivers. I give a lot of money to PG&E to get me power to grow a plant inside. I am greedy for nature too, I want big open places. I want space, I get a clean feeling from wild. Yet I cannot say I live simply, not that way. Living simply can seem real complicated. Same for most outdoor grows, anything you can make some money to move up with on is an abuse of resources. It may be true for almost, if not all, business. Period. Same as it ever was.”
I waited for the teeth so briefly it could not be known I had expected them at all. Sometimes I catch on fast. There is weight in philosophy, as there is lift in spirit. His narration seemed fragile and I brought out an easy question. “When did you find Humboldt? Where did you grow up?”
The Grower smoothed out. “I grew up on the West Coast, born and raised. Done my share of traveling though. Followed the Dead for a while when I was a kid still really. Moved here about 15 years ago. I mean, I had spent time here and knew some folks. Just seemed like the safest environment to go about my business in at that point in the game. All of a sudden I realized I had been growing for a couple of years on my own and that it worked for me, that’s when I moved here. This place can be rugged, I mean Humboldt is its own craziness – it just fit best on a taking chances bet. I have always been a home body, I love my family, I’m not a show off. I look legit enough if someone wanted to wonder, I play that part of the game just fine. For me that is safety. I don’t know anything to change the world, no answers. But I find myself passing middle age a happy man, fulfilled in so many ways. And that is more than I ever dared to expect and I am so thankful.”