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Hemp Among the Stumps (standard:action, 2173 words)
Author: GXDAdded: Sep 02 2009Views/Reads: 1728/990Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
In 1992 this story was science fiction, but not today. Welcome to the 21st Century with Hempfest.


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 

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