The disconnect that the East Coast carries to actual, in-the-ground-cannabis, has far and surpassed what could be called a shame. How many of us have seen a plant up close? Seen a row of plants? Smelled a mountain brisk from late morning clouds pumping the blood of the plant itself all over you? Something that once grew freely and was made into goods is now whispers and passwords and mostly come from places in the world that don’t feel like our plane of reality.
Having the opportunity to see them up close and in their happy place was a pleasure and a privilege, and one that has sharpened my focus on what’s important in the context we exist in. Being a passerby in a cool community of humans who have turned an affinity with nature into a daily quasi-wildcraft is the sweetest part. In the lands of Northern California, nature makes the schedule.
When I arrived, there was work to do for sure, as there’s always something to do on a farm, but nothing in the weed wing was urgent or timely, so we shifted gears for a day to press grapes from the mountainside vineyard that needed immediate attention. This really drove home that pretty much everywhere that grows wine quality grapes can also sustain cannabis cultivation. Pressing grapes is in my Mediterranean blood, so I found it incredibly fun and informative, since I’d never done it before. Bucket after bucket we loaded into a hydraulic press imported from Italy. The smell of these wine grapes after their sugary sojourn in a fermentation tub was crisp, thick, and warm, like a cut apple. I got a whole new respect for my one uncle’s private wine stash that he maintains year after year like the Sicilian grandpa he is.
When I finally rolled up to the side of the mountain where the greenery lived, I took as many lingering glances at the geometric beauty of the blooming flowers and all of their pistil and crystalline curling leaves as I could. I was trying to imprint forever on my mind what I’d normally only seen in magazines or online. One plant in particular, a 6 foot tall and 4 foot wide specimen of God’s Gift, was painted with sunlight for most of the day which made its variant shades seem like they leapt right out of a paint palette. Each plant has its own thickly perfumed perimeter, enveloping most of the surrounding area with a melange of all of the strains populating any given area.
Just like with wine, growing weed takes hours and hours and hours of labor from ground to harvest and processing. It was incredible to be able to participate in even just the smallest part of that day to day attention that pumps out quality buds to most of America. It completed a cycle that as a lifelong East Coaster, I was completely divorced from. The actual earth based part of cannabis consumption couldn’t be more foreign to someone like me. The day flew as I carted pile after pile of dirt to be preserved for the next year. The work was physical as to be expected, and it puts a completely different lens on what we’re smoking, eating, and vaping everyday, 3000 miles away.
At risk of wildfires and wild weather, weed is worth as much as gold so things must ebb and flow to gain as much benefit as possible. Growers never know when Mother Nature can send them a curveball, and there are many. Those who produce cannabis have to be on the same wavelength as the ground they stand and grow on. Experiencing this deeper connection to the plant will be enriching my connection anything green I touch for the rest of my life.
Photos: Danielle Guercio