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Portrait of a Marijuana Widow

War makes women into widows. In fact, war is called "the widow maker." Football also makes some women into widows, especially during football season, which has started once again with a vengeance in high schools, colleges and in the NFL. Anyone who doesn't like it, and doesn't want to participate in the spectacle has to make a concerted effort to avoid it. Granted, men don't die during football season, but they're often just not available to their wives. Not emotionally available and not really present. The minds of many American men are not focused on their wives, their marriages, and their families or even on themselves. They're thinking about TDs, extra points, bad calls, the red zone, first downs, punt returns and kick-offs. Football is a world unto itself.

Mind you, I'm talking as a fan, not a foe. I played high school football, college football and college rugby. For 40 years I watched Monday Night Football with a bunch of guys who were carpenters, contractors, electricians and plumbers. Women were not banned, but no women attended those Monday night games. Only when the Super Bowl arrived did women join the crowd.

Recently, I thought about my friend, Ichika, (not her real name), a Japanese woman who was and is still married to an American man who grew marijuana deep in a Lake County forest. During the marijuana-growing season, which began in February and lasted until October or November, she felt like a widow. She lived alone near Finley and didn't see her husband, except on rare occasions when he came down from the wilderness and reentered civilization.

Ichika lived by herself in a cabin at an old Lake County resort that had closed down. She read books, walked the dog, swam in an Olympic sized pool, watched the creek which got wild in winter, and followed the mountain lions that came down from the forest. She also cultivated eight marijuana plants that grew to be ten feet tall. Might as well cultivate, she thought. "In many ways it was a very solitary life," she told me. "When I got married I didn't think I'd be living alone for most of the year."

To be among people, Ichika took a job as a waitress at Angel's Rock House in Finley, which is still in operation and which bills itself as the best Mexican restaurant in Lake County. On weekends, she made between $180 and $200 a night. Also, she could eat all she wanted to eat at Angel's, which was called the Rock House because it was once home to a bar and dance palace where rock bands played.

"Most of the people who ate there were rednecks," Ichika told me. "The parking lot was packed with pick-up trucks. On Fridays and Saturdays we'd serve one hundred customers. Some of them were growers who hung out at Angel's until it was time to harvest. The cook was Mexican. His wife also worked in the restaurant, and other family members came and ate burritos, enchiladas, tacos, fajitas, sopes, plus a Mexican version of pizza, and of course rice and beans. For dessert there were tortilla chips with cinnamon and sugar." 

Ichika learned enough Spanish to say, "si, si, la comida es buena" when someone asked if the food was good. Rumor had it that some of the Mexicans in Finley were also growing weed. “They had their own little cartel,” Ichika said.

After her husband harvested his crop in the mountains, he came down to Finley and harvested his wife's crop.

She was a marijuana widow for several seasons. That way of life got old fast, but the money was so good it was hard to give it up. Ichika's marriage survived. She and her husband are still together. He's still growing. She helps with the trimming. 

Recently, a big newspaper ran a story that said that pot farmers were getting $500 a pound. Ichika's husband told me he was getting $1,000 a pound and that buyers from all over the country came to his place, made big purchases and paid him in cash.

Don't feel too sorry for the pot growers. “The money I make stays in the local economy,” Ichika's husband told me. Still, he and his wife are thinking about getting out of the cannabiz. “We might go to Japan,” she said. “I have family there. It would be good to be in my own country again."

Angel's is going strong. If you're anywhere near Finley or Lakeport, stop and have a burrito and a beer or two. Drink a couple of margaritas and soak up the atmosphere. You'll probably rub shoulders with a grower. The fact that Mexicans run a restaurant in Finley will remind you of what you already know: that Mexicans are everywhere in the U.S.A. and that everyone eats Mexican food, during football season and anytime of the year.

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