I’m on a ranch in Mendocino County. I traveled here on winding roads. Winding roads through rugged beautiful country, redwoods and grey skies – through pocket-sized towns that make obvious the dominant industry, head shops, hydro shops, healthy restaurants and hippie goods sprinkled among the basic supplies for rural life, coastal life.
Winding roads of history, odd connections, the path of who knows who that brought me here. Am I proud to be here? In this most illicit yet gentle of places?
Every place I move I find my way to the heart of – in Los Angeles it was Hollywood work and parties, running with the Crips, skipping around the underground art and music scene and meeting the personalities – the Dennis Woodruffs, Angelynes, and minor celebs. It was the psychedelic underground, the buyer’s market – the path of least resistance funneled me down the whirlpool to the center of the mayhem of the place. Los Angeles… El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de los Ángeles de la Porciúncula. No apologies.
And in the Bay Area – I find myself at NASA/Google parties and having tea with gay activists, visiting soup kitchens in Berkeley and working for venture capitalists and progressive writers/speaker/event/ television/radio personalities, learning the healing arts from the masters and of course… steeped in the weed culture – all this mind you without trying, without wanting, without choosing it. I just slide blindly to the peaks and troughs of the place – hoping Francis of Assisi wouldn’t be offended.
I’d rather not know what grows on this ranch. I ignore it, I tune out the talks of business as much as possible and pay attention to conversations of anything else. He is a surfer, she is a horsewoman. They are in their fifties, with a daughter in college. The ranch has a dozen or so horses on it and when the lover and I arrive she is exercising them in the pouring rain, one after another. The surfer watches her down in the arena from the window of the cozy main house, near the wood-stove.
“Look at her, out there, still riding. That woman was a warrior in a previous life.”
I remark. “I was probably a cleric in a previous life.”
“Everyone has their place.” He says. I take that as permission to write this entry.
The house is that of any other simple, rural hippie family. There is a giant vegetable garden, greenhouses, and chickens to make fresh eggs. Spiritual and political decorations and fridge-pinnings remind me of dozens of homes I’ve been in. This one is different, I remind myself. This one is a grey area, I remind myself. Twenty years ago, it was completely illegal. Now it may very well be legal via medicinal marijuana. I don’t investigate whether laws are broken or amounts exceeded. I just assume they are.
When she comes in she and I talk about the Dalai Lama, paganism, nutrition, and animals. The lover and he have gone off to do business. I don’t go to the business room, in another outbuilding nearby. I don’t have a prescription, and don’t want to put anyone at risk.
When they return my lover, eyes wide and hands waving, rants about medicinal laws and suing – passionately making a violent case for the medicine he abuses. We pass around a joint. It’s okay. I pretend to like it more than I do – to be polite. It’s organic – but other than that I don’t have much to say about him as a grower. He makes exquisite hash.
The lover and I go to the beach for an hour. The surf is large and the wind bites. He throws sticks to his dog. We smoke a joint of a few different kinds of weed mixed with hash. We become inquisitive children, small as blades of grass, meandering the short path back to the parking lot as if it’s a trail of epic adventure. We look at rocks and ladybugs and play until the automobile brings us back to adulthood.
The lover has set up a third party deal, but the young punk hasn’t called. There is much talk of business in front of me, and a phone call about wine and vintages and bottles and prices. I grimace. Afterwards, though, when they go into yet another outbuilding to make hash – I choose to accompany.
They are making hashish with a set of eight twenty-gallon bubble bags. With each bag the screen gets finer. The process is simple, in a large rubber trash bin they use a drill with long handled mixer attachment to agitate the plant material and ice water mix for a few moments, then they pour that into another bin fitted with the bags. Every bag they squeeze the water out of, scraping the results from the last two bags into a glass baking tray with a credit card.
The surfer chops the hash in the tray throughout – singing to himself “my hash is better than your hash, my hash is better than yours.”, and joking about his long-abandoned cocaine days as he cuts and remixes lines of the golden blonde powder. He takes some ribbing for his job of fluffing - people allude to the pornography position. FluffStar. I try to estimate the price of the tray, and figure it must be somewhere around $20,000 wholesale – could be up to $40,000 street value.
The hashmakers try to come up with a name for the product and I shut down my marketing mind, thinking of all the famous blondes I’d name my own hash after. My lover talks about it being a worthy bagful and they pin that as the name – Worthy Bagful.
Later we eat an organic vegetarian dinner, prepared by him. My lover and I are grateful and well-fed, and we all sit down to watch some DVDs. The last time I was here we went out to the movies – the theater offered organic popcorn with optional toppings like nutritional yeast or spirulina.
The conversation is usually about the law, the local crusty old growers, and stories of good times. Politics, pop culture, horses, and surf dot the speakscape. I note that my lover is passive aggressive, embarrassed by the mentor attitude of the surfer.
We sleep in another outbuilding, outfitted for guests, with an outhouse. Snuggled under the blankets we drift away quickly in the dead quiet. This place relaxes him, and he makes contact, throughout the night. It’s unusual for the lover to show affection, but here and at my home he loosens a little.
In the morning they take two hours to weigh out a few pounds, which the horsewoman and I find amusing. I find sisterhood with her, both of us having chosen to risk it all and be constantly slightly annoyed to be around men that are in the trade. We'd both prefer the men do something else. We'd both be hypocrites to complain; we're both stoners.
As we pack the truck full of weed, hash, and cold hard cash - the lover points out electrical details to the surfer, who despite years of experience apparently still doesn’t understand electricity. The lover traces a path from the transformer to yet another outbuilding, rattling amps and watts off. A horse whinnies and we take that as a cue to leave. They both hug us goodbye, and off we go – winding our way out of the frying pan and into the fire.
I try not to think about it.