|Hemp Among the Stumps (standard:action, 2173 words)|
|Author: GXD||Added: Sep 02 2009||Views/Reads: 1496/881||Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)|
|In 1992 this story was science fiction, but not today. Welcome to the 21st Century with Hempfest.|
HEMP AMONG THE STUMPS Boots or no boots, the stubble kept scratching my legs. Halfway up the slope I had to sit on a stump and wait for the others to come back. My heart was pounding. I didn't envy the woodsmen who cut this slope, where stumps were cracked with age and singed from brush fires. It was October and the twigs were bone-dry from baking in the sun. A lot of insects were buzzing around me, singing a vulture love call. I didn't want my eyes pecked out, so I got up and kept moving a little. Nearly all the stumps, I noted, were calf-high, except a few, which had been cut off higher than my head. Trees without heads, I thought. The cool green forest, bedded with fir needles had become a breeding ground for bluebottle flies and crickets. All the animals were gone. Rob and Jim had climbed to the ridge above, with the survey crew. They shouted to me but I didn't want to join them. I waved my hand and went back to my observations. Why wasn't this patch re-forested? The answer came to me as quickly as the thought formed itself: if they removed the stumps, a whole mountain might slide into the stream below, destroying precious spawning grounds. In a way, we were here to address that problem: how to anchor the ground, yet make it available for growing new crops. We had a particular kind of crop in mind, and it had taken quite a bit of convincing talk to get a go-ahead permit from the Governor. "Okay," were her words, "let's see what you can grow!" and she signed the check. We were here to grow hemp -- to see if it could be made to anchor the soil, so the stumps could be removed. Looking around me, I began to wonder. It had looked so good on paper. The hot, buzzing 3-dimensional reality was something I hadn't bargained for. Planting a crop in acid soil, and harvesting it between the stumps was going to be a real challenge. If we could make it pay off -- and launch a new, marketable product -- then we could bargain for all the steep-slope tree-harvested hillsides in the Northwest. It would spark off a massive movement by people to emulate the National Recovery Act, so successful during the last depression. All the paperwork was still in place -- we did it before, we could do it again: put back the forests. If we could succeed in this venture, then so could others. Bearing in mind that European countries deal with drug problems in more effective ways than many U.S. States, it would require full legalization of the herb marijuana (among the other valuable by-products of hemp) to do the job right. I breathed in the just-golden sunset, peach-reflected in the clouds,and lit up my little shake-pipe. It felt good to stand overlooking this bearded slope hacked into stumps, baked into submission by a dry summer, awaiting the judgment of God. And admiring my own audacity at getting a crack at turning things around. Something rustled and my heart jumped "snake!", but it was only Rob's hand on my shoulder. "No way could you give a concert here, man. Them stumps'd eat up the vibes. Knock on wood." He knocked. "So tell me," I replied. "are you certain your musicians will work here for a day or two every month until we solve this thing?"He waved a hand that told a story. There was no need to answer. Jim came up. "They tell me it's a forty degree slope -- about as high as it is deep. The only thing holding the soil onto the hill is those stumps. We'll never get them out. I'm going back to California." He continued down to the jeep, which wasparked at the other end of a long trail. He was still sulking when we finally caught up with him. There were no roads here. In keeping with strict regulations, the logs could not be hauled out. They were cut from the stream-bed upward, so Click here to read the rest of this story (165 more lines)
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