Humboldt Stories: Marijuana Trimming Is The New Social Circle


All photos by Sharon Letts
Trimming Sour Diesel

“It’s not Weeds, it’s Real”

By Sharon Letts
Nick drove down Samoa Boulevard from Arcata onto the South Spit, and into the town of Manila, where Greg lived. Tonight Greg was paying $200 a pound, plus a bag of popcorn, for the most tedious, boring work in the industry. 
Getting onto someone’s list for trimming is all about relationships, trust, and if the group wants you there. For the hours are long and often run into the wee hours of the morning. 
There was also the issue of vehicles in front of the house to finesse. Too many, too many days in a row, and red flags would be raised. Greg was a musician, so if you had an instrument you carried it inside, and, if anyone wanted to jam on a break, so much the better.

Nick parked down the street and took his guitar from the back seat. In his backpack were the tools of the trade: one small bottle of olive oil (for prepping fingers against resin); one pair of incredibly sharp Fiskars trimming clippers; one tray with a lip; and a container to collect the popcorn nugs.

There were several circles working… one around the kitchen table, another in the living room, and one small group hanging on the back deck taking a break with a bong.
“Hey, Man.” Greg said to Nick, getting up from a big chair in the living room, putting out his hand to shake, pulling it back, fast. “Kinda sticky,” he laughed.
Greg was from the 70s. A retired high school teacher, the word was he went out on a disability, with PTSD and chronic pain in his “correcting arm.” He subsidized his meager pension with trimming and housesitting.
“Dude, take a look at this cola!” Lewis said, holding up a long cluster of bud.
“Break it down, man,” Greg advised.
Lewis was a grower, but Nick didn’t sit for him, as his place was a mess. Lewis spent his days gaming and little else.  How his grow made it through each cycle, no one knew. 
There were a handful of travelers – the “new migrant workers” with blond dreads, handmade clothes pieced together with whatever they could find, and a seemingly constant sunny attitude.
“Peace,” they collectively said, raising blunts, smiling through slit eyes.
“Hi, Nick!” Caitlin said, coming from the garage off the kitchen with branches of bud.
Nick liked Caitlin. She wasn’t a typical, affected grower girl. She was a business major at Humboldt State. They met in a circle such as this, but the last time he saw her was at a workshop at the Small Business Center in Eureka. Like him, she wanted more out of this industry, but wasn’t exactly sure what that would be.
“Now that’s some bud,” Greg said, admiring the branch. “You never saw anything like that in the 70s in So Cal,” he began.

Nick and Caitlin looked at each other and smiled. Greg was known for his long, detailed stories of the bud back in the day. The stories were usually good, but most there had heard them before, so Greg focused his attention to the new migrant workers, who were easily amused if the bowl was kept full.
“One, ten dollar four-finger ounce contained a dry, brown shit, man – more likely from Mexico. What we’d call shake here in Humboldt. Floor droppings – the stuff we make into hash now.”
Someone tried to chime in with a comment, but when he was in storytelling mode, he was oblivious to anyone and anything except his own voice.
“In 1974 I was in a questionable situation,” he continued. There was a large quantity of certain 80 gram slabs of hash, with an ornate brand mark of, ‘Abar Kabul’ engraved into each bar.”
Suddenly there was quiet in the room.
“That’s right,” Greg smiled happy to have their attention.  “My buddy and I got out of there fast. In the 80s we had Thai-Stick rolled in a ‘pinner.’ Then Kona Gold started showing up from Hawaii. The four-finger, ten dollar Mexican bag became the sixty-dollar Sinsemilla bag, and improved and got stronger until one ounce was more than two hundred dollars. That was a lot back then…” Greg trailed with one story after the other, while heads were down with trimmers mesmerized, and the gentle sound of snipping continued.
Hours passed and Nick got up and took his guitar outside for a smoke and a beer. “Lost Coast Brewery’s Downtown Brown” was on ice in a bucket, and he popped the cap and took a long, refreshing swig.
The sky was clear and the slivered moon in Manila shown over Humboldt Bay. In the distance he could see the lights of Eureka, Humboldt’s County seat, and beyond that was nothing but redwoods for miles. Around the corner, from the side of the house you could see the Pacific Ocean. Yes, Humboldt really was cut off, he thought, happy to be here at this moment.
“Break-time,” Caitlin said, joining him on the deck. “Greg’s going off again.”
“I’ve heard those stories,” Nick laughed. “You can’t get a word in edgewise. I don’t think he realizes everyone’s eyes are glazed over.” 
“It’s not a conversation, it’s a monologue,” Caitlin laughed. “Probably left over from teaching in front of a classroom? We are his students now.”
Caitlin took a joint out of a little black pouch, lit it and offered it to Nick. “Sorry, it’s just trim, but it’s got a lot of kief.” Here’s some bud on the table,” she said, visibly embarrassed.
“What are you doing smoking trim, Caitlin? Is Jake being a jerk again?” Nick inquired, already knowing the answer. He didn’t like the So Cal trust fund baby, and avoided working for him for many reasons – the main one being, he was stingy with everything – and his girlfriend, no doubt, felt the squeeze the most.
“Again?” she asked, and they both laughed. “I’ve got to get out of there,” she continued. “I caught him cheating again. But, I have no money, and a student loan taller than a ten foot Sativa.”
Nick knew many girls in this same situation. Guys like Jake took advantage of girls with their wealth of green and all that implies. He knew Jake wanted her gone, because he was an ass about it, complaining loudly to whoever would listen, about his “bitch” of a girlfriend. It sickened Nick. 
“You know that apple orchard I told you about?” Nick inquired.
“Yes, that sounded lovely, Nick,” Caitlin’s voice was sad. He could feel her longing for a better life, just as he did.
“I’ve got to go out and take a look next week. Would you like to come along? Nick smiled, broadly.
Caitlin looked up at the moon, smiled, and turned to Nick, “I really would.”

Sharon Letts

Editor’s note: Sharon Letts began her love of gardening in Southern California by her mother’s side, watching as she buried fish heads at the base of roses.

At 24, Sharon hung her shingle, “Secret Garden,” planting flower beds for dainty ladies. Gardening led to producing and writing for television with “Secret Garden Productions.”

Today Sharon makes her home in Humboldt County, cannabis capitol of the world, where she continues to write about gardening and all that implies, advocating for the bud, and writing for many magazines, including Toke of the Town.

Her series, “Humboldt Stories,” is a fictional account, based on fact, of the Humboldt grow scene. Tag line: “It’s not Weeds, it’s real.”

She also pens “Road Trip: In Search of Good Medicine,” touring the Golden State, following the Green Rush.