The other WWOOFers have started to warm up a little to us over the weekend. KC, Liz, Ashlee, Max, Jason, Jeffrey, Michael, and Ari all have been especially friendly with us transients recently. Eric has not said a word or even acknowledged any of us. Phil has been more sober but still glowers at Melissa, Sharon and me like he wishes we never came. Kaika and Eli are friendly but don’t really seek conversation.
The greatest enigma is Jesiah. Around everybody, when he is plucking his banjo and singing with his drawling voice he is effusive and light-hearted. But when the numbers are smaller or dominated by transients he separates himself to smoke and stare unblinkingly inside the warehouse, his haggard face and beard made static by thought.
Of course, I want to be friends with these hippie people, and the best way to get there—work—began today.
Being new, I’m not trusted with tying my own shoes let alone operating any form of machinery. My task today was to pull up hundreds of feet of weed mat buried under pounds of dirt and roots while Matt weedwhacked a new row to plant vanilla. We worked in an enormous, mostly overgrown field shaded by lines of Ohana trees that will someday provide the structure for scores of vanilla—an orchid.
I got dirty, had a hell of a workout yanking up all the mat, and I think made some good headway. Matt and I, in seven hours, managed to clear one row of super-weeds and weed mat and it felt like an achievement. That was with an industrial weed-killing monster. I don’t understand how people did this with oxen and rock once upon a time.
I was exhausted, and it brought me to an understanding of why transients aren’t particularly liked. I was too tired to help with the group dinner so I decided to make my own later. This seemed to bug people. I thought it would be alright that I would just fend for myself, but it’s not really that cut and dry for transients. The five of us have done a combined eleven days of work (Matt and Peter started work last week) while consuming a quarter of the food in the past two weeks. Everyone else has been on the farm for an average of about three months. They put their entire lives into the farm, desiring to live off its gifts and learn the trade themselves. A bunch of college kids with no real interest in farming that eat their food and offer very little in return is just a nuisance. We’re an insult to their lifestyle and a burden on their home. But they still have eighteen more days of us.