“You don’t happen to know anyone with CBD, do you?” I asked Sister Susan, three days before the commencement of the Autumn moon cycle. I quickly went on to explain that we were sold out, that the moon cycle started in three days, that I needed to re-stock the store shelves or the money flow would stop and everything would stop.
“I think Cliff has some,” said Susan, “And I have to go out to his farm today. Do you want to go with?”
I knew Cliff. He had grown for the Sisters when we ran our cannabis co-op years ago. I knew he grew organic, but I also knew that he never kept track of his strains, he never cured properly, and he always pulled his crops too soon. I also knew he was a bit crazy. Cliff earned his crazy, though, having lost a brother and mother to a home fire, and his dad a few months later to sheer heart-ache. That was five or six years ago and Cliff has lived as a hermit ever since. Eschewing people for dogs, and goats. Trauma changes people. Cliff’s crazy isn’t really crazy to me. Pets are healers, and he is just self healing.
Susan agreed to pick me up at noon, and we drove to the bank. Knowing that we didn’t know what he had, or what he would charge for it, I explained to Sister Susan, “I’m taking out a thousand dollars and I’ll see what it gets us.”
I knew Cliff never went out, never had visitors, didn’t read the local papers, nor pay much attention to news, so I exchanged my habit for lay-clothes. I was quite sure he didn’t know I had become a nun.
It was 105 degrees out when Susan and I were rolling up on the dusty road in front of his property. We sat out there with the car idling, basking in the cold air pumping from the vents, while Susan called him to let him know we had arrived. “There’s no entrance gate to his property,” Susan explained, as she hung up. “He took it out recently; he said if there is no entrance, any police coming on his property are actually doing breaking and entry.” I smiled a weary smile. I knew this would be an adventure.
Cliff arrived in a souped up golf cart. He had a battery powered hand drill to remove screws from the metal fencing, and I waited and watched from the car, as he also had to untie numerous pieces of twine that were holding bits and pieces of the fence in place. Reluctantly, we shut off the engine and got out into the hot sun.
“You cut your hair,” he said – his very first words to me. I think I must have given him a confused look because his next words were, “What happened to your braids? When I saw you last they hung on your shoulders and I liked them.”
“Hello, Cliff,” I said, smiling and stepping into a stiff hug. As we stepped through the open section of fence, he got busy re-drilling the metal sheets in place, re-tying the metal bars. “Get in the cart, Ladies.” We drove the cart about fifteen feet when he stopped the engine, jumped out, and using keys for multiple locks, opened another gate, drove through. Stopped, jumped out and re-locked it. Once through that, we rode across several acres of dusty, sandy, barren land, passing dilapidated structures, the stumps of harvested cannabis plants, and his herd of goats, lying under a canopy that was the nicest structure in view.
He pulled the golf cart onto a little path that led through an open gate at the front of his house. We walked through an enclosed garden that held approximately twenty mature, un-harvested cannabis plants. We walked through his house, where the air conditioning felt heavenly, but the noise from the seven yappie dogs unbearable. Susan took a seat on a recliner, announced that she would wait for us there, and we continued through the kitchen door, out to the back side of the house. We then walked across a half acre of more flat, dry land to a place where eight mature cannabis plants stood alone waving slightly in the hot wind.
“This is my CBD crop.” He said, pointing to the plants that towered above me in the hot sun. I shaded my eyes to look up, to assess their height. I inspected the bud. “What kind?” I asked.
“I’m not sure any more.” Cliff answered. And I smiled, because I was quite sure he wouldn’t know. I’m quite sure the reason he doesn’t keep track of his strains is because he cannot read or write. He was raised on that farm. Even though he is now near sixty, he and his brother and mother and father lived there, and ran the scrap metal business together for nearly forty years. Then one summer, they all crossed over and left Cliff to care for the dogs – and the goats, and the environmental clean-up of the property.
“This woman brought me seeds she bought from either a dispensary or a seed bank. They were all labeled and stuff, but I didn’t keep ‘em. She had cancer, and asked me to grow her CBD. I was just about to harvest it, and she died.”
“Oh, Cliff, I’m so sorry.” I said. Just recently, I had a cancer patient reach out to me from Oregon and I played telephone tag with his care-giver for a week, at the end of which, I was notified that the patient died.
“Oh, I didn’t know her very well,” he explained. “A friend of a friend, kind of thing. I don’t even remember her name. Flo, I think. Yeah, I think it was that.”
The patron saint of Sisters of the Valley is Florence Nightingale. My Grandmother’s name was Florence. I smiled again. I appreciate synchronicity, even standing under what was by then, a 107 degree mid-day sun.
It appeared to me that the eight plants were from eight different strains. “Do you remember any of the strain names, Cliff?” I asked, hopefully.
“Cannatonic.” He said. “That’s the only one I remember. But she said they were all high CBD. It’s why I kept them far away from my other plants. See? They have their own acre. I needed to make sure I didn’t mix them up.” It was quiet for a moment as I wondered how many more weeks before they were ready to harvest. As if he read my thoughts, Cliff said, “If you take them right now, you can have them.”
“What?” I asked, totally puzzled. “They aren’t ready!”
“Their past ready.” He said. “I’ve already harvest twenty big-uns, out front! Didn’t you see when we were driving past the goats?”
“I saw.” I said, and refrained from having a discussion with him that I knew would go no-where. It was September seventeenth. No one harvested outdoor this early. No one did – by choice, anyway.
“I started a new business.” I began to explain, but he waived me away saying, “I know, I know, you use it to make salves and stuff. You can have it, but you gotta take it now before I shoot someone. I’m getting my whole crop in because the east avenue gang of tweekers is coming for it. I’ma cutting this today one way or t’nother. I was gonna just feed it to my goats, but then Susan called…”
“Don’t feed this to the goats!” I said, shocked. “America is currently sold out of bulk CBD! People are pre-ordering for Fall harvests! I would have to ship it in from Europe right now!”
“Well, I tried to give it to the cancer society, but they wanted my social security number, so I had to just hang up the phone.” I smiled. This from the man who has a wall-sized American flag hanging in his living room. He loves his country. He hates his country.
“Well, Lady, you can have it all, if you want it.”
“Hell, yes, we want it! Of course we want it. But, Cliff, this will not all fit in my little Ford. Let me go get a van, let me call my son… “ I pleaded. It was now past one o’clock and the day was getting hotter. His whole property was dry dirty-white sand, spotted with tumble weed and cannabis root stalks.
“Don’t you worry about your car. I’ll make it fit. Worry about the goats.” He warned, as he started cutting at the base of the tallest of the eight plants. I put out my arms as forty pounds or more of a cannabis tree was handed to me. I swear it made me sink two inches down into the sand. I had sandals on. I had a linen skirt and blouse and a straw hat and lipstick and mascara and I was about to carry eight huge plants across a half acre of sand, one at a time, and that was just the first part of a multi-part journey to the car.
While I trudged across the sand, I was mentally shaking my head in disbelief. “Really? Really, my angels and Guardians? This is what you want me to do to get CBD?” But then my other Gemini twin said, “You ungrateful brat! You just scored ten pounds minimum of CBD bud and ten pounds minimum of CBD leaf and it was donated and you have it for your moon cycle batch! And you are complaining about the form of delivery? Suck it up, girl!” I stood and wiped my brow after dropping the first load. “You can do this, Kate.” I told myself.
I started to think of Flo, in heaven, watching us and smiling with pride that she managed to get her medicine into good hands. Cliff and I toiled wordlessly for the next hour, sweat pouring into our eyes, stopping only once to get some water. When we were done, we had a huge pile by the back door of his house.
“Now you go in and set for a bit,” he said, “While I load up the golf cart.”
“Hey, Cliff, would the goats leave us alone if we give them an offering? You know, give them each a stalk?” I asked seriously, but Cliff chuckled. “Not my goats. They want it all and they know they can have it all. Nope, we’ll just have to take the long way around the property. I will get their food out, and that might distract ‘em… “ He looked worried. All I needed was an attack of the goat herd. I had seen the damage goats could do.
Uitendelijk (finally), Susan and I drove fifteen miles back to the abbey with eight foot cannabis trees hanging out the trunk of the Ford Focus. He had no plastic bags, no blankets or tarps, and he kept insisting it was all good and that no one would bother us. When we pulled into the driveway, Susan and I, feeling relieved and victorious, my son came out, took one look at the car, and he was the first to begin scolding us.
“Are you crazy, Mom? Have you totally lost your marbles?” He was all puffed up and angry-looking. Susan and I both had stupid grins on our faces and that just made him madder. “Who does this?” he asked rhetorically, waving to the tail of the car. Behind him came Italia. “What in the f*** are you doing?” he said, rubbing his eyes, as if he couldn’t believe what he was seeing.
“It’s CBD.” I announced, “And really, Italia, I would have done it any other way, if I could, but the guy who donated the crop, well, he’s kind of a hermit, and he is dealing with some gang of bandits, and we had no choice but to take it right now.”
“You couldn’t get the van? Why didn’t you take the van? Why didn’t you call me?”
“He wouldn’t let me. I didn’t take the van because I thought it was a business meeting. Look at me!” I said, lifting my skirts to show him my scratched and dirty feet, my ruined sandals.
“Don’t stand there talking,” Italia said, “We have to get this into the garage.”
Later that night, Chico gave me a bunch of words on how my little stunt put the whole house and family at risk of gangsters robbing us. How driving home with cannabis hanging out of your trunk is the same as announcing that there is cannabis in my home, come rob me.
“It’s CBD.” I said, knowing that just because it’s non-psychotropic, just because there is no local black market for these strains, doesn’t mean the crooks know that. As soon as the words were out of my mouth, I regretted them, because Chico hollered “THEY DON’T KNOW THAT, you foolish woman!”
I argued that if they grew my CBD properly, like they did the THC plants, I wouldn’t be in this pickle, but Chico was too clever to accept that argument. He pointed out to everyone listening that even if their CBD crop had succeeded, the sisters would be out of leaf and bud for this moon cycle, anyway, due to the fact that it wasn’t yet time to harvest.
Back in another era of my life, I consulted for newly-deregulated businesses. Energy, Telecom, Cable. I learned back then that working in a newly-deregulated business is much like a ride on a bull. You have to hang on tight. You have to be determined. You have to be able to roll with the punches. If you get thrown, you have to get right back on. Hours and days of hard work, interspersed with moments of fun and moments of pure terror.
“This is the first batch that I have ever made that I am afraid of.” I commented to Sister Darcy one night prior to beginning the batch. “We must pray to rid the fear.” I said.
“Why are you afraid, Sister?”
“The stakes are higher.” I said, simply. “There is much to lose. We have stepped onto the world stage. We are being watched. People from all over the world are re-ordering and relying on our medicines to manage pain, to help reverse cancer, to reduce seizures. Our mistakes will have public consequences.”
I didn’t tell young Sister Darcy what I was really worried about. I didn’t tell her my fear that the lab results would come back upside down, that the CBD to THC ratios would be wrong, that the batch we just invested over a thousand dollars of high quality ingredients to make, might not cut the mustard for shipping out of state, and then the value of the batch reduces by fifty percent, and the store gets neglected, as we turn our energies to the California dispensaries to distribute… I didn’t connect all those dots for her. I didn’t explain that if the worst happens, it would have been better for the goats to eat the CBD.
“If the universe wanted the goats to get the CBD,” she said as she hugged me, “It wouldn’t have delivered it to us, Sister.” I didn’t believe her, but her hugs are sweet and all I really needed to banish the nagging fear. It will be what it will be. And if we get thrown off the bull, we will just have to brush ourselves off and get back on.