I swore I was done with this kind of work after I went hill-crazy in Humboldt last year.
“I’d rather dig holes for toothless rotting bodies than find myself manicuring flowers again.” I said it with abandoned certainty. I’ve had many different bosses over these last few years. A few were competent at what they did. Alas, many of those boys have been shut down due to recent policy changes throughout California. On my hitch up the 101 from San Rafael, I heard more disturbing news the further north I traveled. The local news told about “task forces” that “enforced new county limits”. They were swooping down by the droves in private-owned helicopters, chopping stalks and pillaging gardens. I heard a rumor that Anhauser-Busch was providing funds for these operations. I wouldn’t doubt it. Medicine is bad for competition when you’re in the business of sci-fi corn, kidney stones, and liver blemishes. Humboldt county seems to be the last Californian frontier, where the 99 plant minimum remains upright like 14-foot medicine trees against the winds of political change.
I caught a straight hitch from Laytonville to Arcata, a solid 2.5 hour ride. I kicked around town for a spell, just to see what was shaking for work. I got some promising intel from a group of bright-eyed transients. Arcata has been having a mad tea party since Albert Hoffman pushed bicycle peddles through fractal gravel and sacred geometry puddles. It’s the sort of town I would feel comfortable to lose every single marble I ever had, only to find them all at a local pawn shop for $4.20 the next day. That being said, I didn’t stay too long. The mission was on my mind.
Onward and upward; my hitching muscles were getting strong, you know. Try defying gravity for 7 or so hours and tell me it doesn’t get your arm muscles ripped. An outstretched arm takes on a symbolic nature. It’s reaching out for help,
“Who’s got me? Where’s my fellow man? Who can pick me up and carry me onward?”
A connecting flight brought me towards Oregon, Washington, and beyond on the hunt for reliable, safe, and “legal” work. I say “legal” because the feds don’t like these flowers too much. They generally don’t hassle you if you abide by the county/state laws (and you don’t have any cartels or meth cooks in your immediate vicinity. If you do, they’ll get raided, and so will you. Like a school of narco-fish caught in a fat fed net.)
Which brings me to here. My hands are busy and coated with resin. Each finger on my left side is periodically tarred and feathered black and green. The monotony isn’t nearly as draining when you’re comfortable and around good people. Such is the case on this job. The usual stress factors are omnipresent: mold, powdery mildew, mites, root rot, too much rain/not enough rain, too much sun/not enough sun, too much herb/not enough booze, too many dudes/not enough ladies. That’s the way she goes.
Layer after layer, titanium shears reveal red hairs and trichomes. They resemble Irish beards and droplets of whiskey-dew. Beautiful flowers, they are. Most people boast about how much they can manicure in a day. Most of them are like the buckets we compost our human fertilizer inside of: full of shit. It sounds like a harsh criticism, but it’s true. Fast manicurists generally do sub-par work. But then again, I’m the tortoise of the bunch so I can’t say much. I’m thorough.
Yes, when you’re on the hill, you should be prepared to squat over five gallon buckets. Which reminds me, there’s a baker’s dozen here. All sealed and ready to be left on the steps of city hall. You should also be comfortable going days without a shower. And rubbing resin into your eyes by accident. It burns. Your clothes will start to take on a gillie-suit profile. Things will stick to your fingers with fierce adhesion. You’ll knock beers over. Drop phones. Everything will get resin on it. Your glasses. Your hair. Your dog. Your girlfriend. Everything will smell like the flowers. The plus side: it also sticks to itself. It can be rolled into tight little balls and enjoyed however you see fit. Mine go into hand-rolled cigarettes.
Sounds glorious, doesn’t it? Everyone seems to have only good things to say about this line of work. I hear things like,
“You can make $200 a day at LEAST!” and “I was able to buy a new car after last year’s harvest.” Although these may or may not be true, don’t expect to make that happen overnight. If your boss knows their shit(get it?) and had a good year, everyone will eat well. This is not always the case. There are many factors that will influence your overall salary. Your sanity is probably the biggest one. Can you handle working and living with a bunch of headstrong, opinionated, transients? Do you enjoy staring at your hands for long hours, days on end, to the point where you’ll see flower slideshows in your sleep? Can you keep up with an irie vibe that would keep Snoop Dogg couch-locked, wide-eyed, and giggling? These are the things I ask myself before I get started. It’s more fun working in a kitchen. But I don’t have those contacts out here, and the kitchens won’t let me live on-site.
My mission: I have a derelict Volvo in the Tahoe area of CA to rescue, repair, and get on the road. I’ve got to earn & burn to make it happen. I’ve set the bar at earning $100 a day. I have all the lectures and audiobooks I need. The mind is zen. Matter is void. Void is trimming. It’s going to be a winding road, not so much long as it is wide and high.
As I near the end of this transmission, I give thanks for the opportunity and the abundance that is prevalent in my life right now. I will spread it wherever it is needed, in hopes that this prosperity consciousness is contagious and I can share it with the world. No, I cannot find work for you so don’t ask. If you’re really looking for it, stick your thumb out anywhere north of San Francisco and ride it as far as you can go. The universe will provide if you are willing. Ask yourself: What are my intentions? Do I really want this? Do I want to contend with the frenzied pace and stress of cash-crop farmers? What lessons can I learn from this? If you know yourself, you’ll know the answer. Trust in this: it’s not as cool as it sounds. You are just a migrant worker. For me, it’s a matter of convenience for my nomad existence. I don’t have bank credit, I just have the other kind. Over and out.