My soundtrack for this very short journey was some inspirational music for me, attached below. It followed me throughout the trip as part of the framework for my writing these observations. So, indulge me with a listen to my friend DF Tram while you read my words.
I find that his imaginative explorations work with my visual and emotional interpretations of that elongated day and a half in Redding, California. This music influences the sky and my dreams, and that looming, snow-covered mountain is where the water used to nurture the plants really comes from. https://canopyofstars.bandcamp.com/album/the-upsweep
The Spiritual Guides
Nishant Reddy and his crucial EO, Leslie… took care of everything just perfectly as I, too, worked as an EO for decades, and I understand the pressure. It’s hard work, and she does it with alacrity and deep humility. Everything was perfect in my vision. From the sounds of the birds outside my hotel room balcony (I left deep/snowy winter in NJ, so having my door open and letting in the sound of the birds gently waking me after a long flight from NJ…To the first wake and bake of the day, inhaling a micro joint of A Golden State with the freshness of the mountain air surrounding my head. Those little joints of Woods — appropriate somehow being up in the mountain forest — this is what I enjoyed first thing in the morning — a pleasure and an honor. Then, a real mountain breakfast with far too much handcrafted food; each glimpse around me was of freight trains going by (lots of trains) and the metaphor for my journey, the omnipresent snow-covered mountains that encircle this magical place. They are the reason why I am here. The water that melts down off Mt. Shasta is life-giving! It’s amazing! I experienced much visually during my visit, both inward and outward. Smoking cannabis of this quality from A Golden State, at their elevation, really was a pleasure. My interactions with the terroir were punctuated by the ring of snow-covered mountains spilling their visual secrets whenever you gazed up.
Thank you for allowing me glimpses of your world. It was just perfect.
A Golden State… Wow, what you have achieved here is unlike anything I’ve seen before, and I get around the world. Is there a term for ultra-craft? I hope so because of what “Bear” and Nishant have achieved with a cast of artists — all striving for a canopy of dreams… It’s striking for me to view the inner vista. The Aboriginal people call it the Dreamtime. When I’m around thriving plants, the energy from these creations fills my brain for lucid dreaming later on — the scent, the visuals, the feel, the conversation. It was a university course, condensed down to a couple of hours. I could have spent all day asking questions with just observations. Lighting from below, the side, on top, hands giving energy and taking the experience to another level. Like the great masters of art, cannabis of this complexity is not manipulated. There is a purity that oozes off each densely textured inhalation.
It was that sticky stuff, and it was all over my fingers and surrounding my head. I couldn’t even focus my Leica; the lens was fogged up anyway from the room’s inner rainforest terroir (forest floor and almost visible droplets of humidity experiment), nor my iPhone, because my beforementioned fingertips were stuck together from that juicy bud of Lemon Creamsicle smeared all over the lens. The plethora of dazzling LED-lit plants that surrounded me was gluing up my nostrils with their perfumes and my glove-covered fingers with their gummy juices. The air hung weightily in my head and fingers, coated with a certain lifegiving sap. Pan Asian spices like cardamom and bursts of Thai Chilies stung the inside of my nose. The rainforest-like humidity made my usually comfortable wool socks dripping sweat buckets. As I walked around each plant, drinking in her energy, I realized that it wasn’t unpleasant; in fact, I wanted to spend the rest of the day in there, like in a friendly steam room located inside a country club. In this case, the rooms filled with thirsty bushes of perfectly hand-tended flowers. Just gazing at each happy plant and marveling at the sticky stuff that was suspended in each breath, the aromas literally coating my glasses with ebullient plant juices.
It was ironic, but as I was searching for a way to keep my fingers and everything else from sticking together, my spirit guide on the personal tour recommended that I “run my fingers through my hair.” Hmmmm. Why, I wondered. As if on cue, the explanation given to me was perfectly simple. The oils in our hair dissolve the cannabis resin nearly immediately. Just one more thing I learned about the plant. No soap and water were needed, and that effusive perfume of their juicy strains enveloped my airspace in her sweet/gassy aromatics of the opulent cannabis varietals.
I want to wear the myriad of her olfactory-pleasing perfumes as my cologne all day long.
Each room is consistently tended to, from the top down to the absolute bottom up. The air smells clean, and everything gleams like the first day the system was installed. Each grow room is different, with micro-experiments held right within their more traditional approaches. Metrics are essential, with vast amounts of data brought into the grows. Each room is a consistent experience in these metrics as they reference and compare certain observations. Constantly day in and day out, hour by hour, pressure, humidity, temperature, light, dark, watering, feeding, testing, and retesting, hand watering, weighing, spoken kindly to, I think it matters…. I’d hoped to have music played for the plants. I’m sure they’d enjoy some of the Upsweep.
In the end, it’s all about her, the plant. She is carefully hand-tended, and it is grueling, nonstop work. She rewards this completely mind-numbing activity by offering a deeply Zen experience that requires profound patience. What it really requires is a sense of swiftness because there are thousands of plants to tend to. Each plant is essential and equally important to life itself.
Starting at the bottom is not working as a plant-touching person at A Golden State; there are many steps to take before the plant becomes the primary focus. It really becomes an intonation or a mindful activity in the grand sense of the word because there is always something to do in the care of the facility and the cleanliness of everything within. Perhaps the explanation for this, my explanation, lies in the book Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, which should be in their welcome new employee kits, as this book might help in the nature of their work. I’ve been to grows all over and this was the first one that I wanted to hook up an electrical current reader to the plant and listen to the sound of the good energy that flows through each flower. Aside from the technical stuff, this is an organic plant that just feels good to be around. If the entire universe was in a microcosm of cannabis scent, each sniff was coating the inside of my nose and filling my head with all sorts of canna-driven possibilities.
I couldn’t wait to taste what was waiting for me later back in my jacket pocket. A Golden State grows some of the finest cannabis I have ever savored. True, I am well-traveled and have enjoyed many a fine grower’s special home stash… Without factoring in the basic premise that I couldn’t possibly have tried everything, of course, in the fifty years I’ve appreciated the plant. What A Golden State does is profoundly unique due to the relentless determination exemplified by every team member from the bottom up — from the flower trimmers to the master growers. They clearly love what they do, and it shows in every essential task, from vacuuming out an entire room and breaking down each part of the air-conditioning to the dehumidification units to the combination of lights to their very placement, vertically, horizontally, and from above and below. It’s all an encyclopedia of the plant and how to do better by her.
My observation? This is a deeply crafted project. Sure, they want to be perfectly efficient, but patience is absolutely a virtue. Their positive methods are many, and each experiment is meant to emulate something greater than it was prior. How else do you learn? And my favorite strain? Empanadas Diez… the sense of elation is paramount to me. I get things done.
The effort that goes into every 1/8th of an ounce glass jar from A Golden State is not just physical; it’s a deeply emotional experience. Each cultivar is an involvement in the anti-stoner experience. Oh, don’t get me wrong. I got plenty “high.” But cannabis, on this level, does more for me than just being obliterated. It opens my mind and forces me to think about what I’ve been experiencing in life. My thinking offers a certain clarity and intellectualism. I don’t feel like I’m going to be sleeping; I want to create beautiful articles.
A Golden State’s THC levels are lower than most, and that’s a really good thing. I’m on the record, and I want to reiterate again that ultra-high numbers from THC cannabis do not help me from a medical standpoint. They just don’t reduce my eye pressure. It doesn’t do anything but give me a headache; it’s no fun when using medical cannabis for a specific purpose. What the strain named Empanadas Diez offers is just right for me. A coating on the backside of my brain. Lagniappe is my description. A little something extra.
What A Golden State has achieved through its commitment to the uncompromising equilibrium of craft cannabis to commerce in the macro sense is exemplified in its purely noble approach to the plant. What I initially envisioned as something more mechanical in nature was immediately dispelled by the fact that this ultra-craft cannabis grow exists because of exemplary reasoning. The details and attention shown to every plant in the rooms are utterly mind-blowing.
Sure, you can robotically mechanize a cannabis grow; I’ve seen it and wondered how the plant likes being manipulated in this way. But why would you when every plant in every room at A Golden State is loved, every single day, around the clock? Day in, day out. It’s their life work.
If they were glass blowers, I’d be watching them hand-pull fragile Murano glass. It’s that level of expertise without fail because they are dealing with extremely expensive materials. Cohesive, behavioral, consistent perfection in everything they do in the life-cycle of the plant, from popping seeds to packaging the flowers, it’s all done right here.
If you can’t do the best, don’t do it at all. At A Golden State, they have achieved something very distinctive through what appears to be an intense, laborious series of mind-numbing exertions. Tending their vast myriad of miniature and fragile seedlings right down to the elegant, finished product, all by hand, is arduous work taken on with a profound desire and even empathy. Their work is mindful, and their jobs can be deeply fulfilling on an innate level. Something that craft cannabis allows us to experience that special feeling I felt.
What A Golden State has achieved in craft cannabis is very different from the corporate cannabis machine, which unfortunately shows very little finesse, so we won’t be discussing that genre!
The art of craft cannabis shows in everything they do, from their pastel “California Desert” hue packaging in the slender little tins containing tiny hand-filled joints to their handsome glass vessels sitting in tiny cutouts inside their thoughtfully designed packages. Each is devised to eliminate any lateral or vertical motion that may damage the unsullied, hand-trimmed flowers. And the end result? That’s for you to experience.
Seek out A Golden State and see what their eloquent purpose brings to you. I think it is very special, rare, pleasurable, and intensely transcendent.
Their Brand New Redding California Dispensary
Located just around the corner from the Redding Airport is their brand new flagship dispensary/grow. You’ll need to see what they have accomplished; it’s essential to your gourmet cannabis edification.
They’d love to see you at the dispensary, and the warmth that is emulated in the room is not just something you can see. It’s something you feel inside. Rest your legs awhile on the sumptuous couches and savor the stylish architecture of the building. Enjoy the view of the fully scaled cannabis grow situated just behind large windows facing the equally large windows fronting their always-changing streetscape in a very safe area of town.
I’ve never been in a facility anywhere in the world that looks as visually beautiful as this facility. It’s organic in style and peacefully designed, yet vividly lit from the inside. A blazing series of LED lighting arrays. They are immediately punctuating your entire visual experience. The plants growing behind you are oozing with green, purple, orange, and white flowers. Others, in their trimmed state, are displayed in jewelry cases, set prominently on the broad, modern mountain-designed stone counters with roughhewn edges reminiscent of George Nakashima wood tables, yet fabricated by local stones- are interactive and demand your touch. Shopping is encouraged, or just let the friendly and deeply competent budtenders personally guide your canna-centric experience with gentleness. Their verbal anecdotes and canna-vision are pleasant and non-sales pushy. That get ’em in and out in five minutes or fewer minutes just doesn’t exist here. You are encouraged to come as you are and enjoy the views, either outside or inside. I loved both because I’d never experienced a dispensary with a full-sized grow just behind. Sure, I’ve been to Colorado and Oregon, where there were micro-grows of a couple of plants in the shops. But this was a completely full-scale operation, with no messing around with it just for show grow. The space is pristine; they are always cleaning and hand-tending to the plant. This is what is always going on in the background. The plant is what is important here, with the visionary plants from A Golden State guiding my dreams.
The store itself is visually more akin to a high-end NYC design shop, reminiscent of the Museum of Modern Art store in Soho. A Golden State has achieved another arrow in its quiver with its non-obtrusive design. The plant in her glory is presented in large glass cases. The lighting is soft, and the color palate is earthy and calming. The entire length of the dispensary is punctuated by large glass windows facing an LED-bathed professional grow.
An experience in architecture, light, the giant windows gazing into another dimension. A fully in action, craft cannabis grow. Very impressive indeed.
May I have another twenty minutes?
Thank you to Nishant Reddy, who helped me go further emotionally on this trip than I thought possible at this time of my life. Nishant redefined my enlightenment by offering something tangible in a manner I’d never experienced before. Remarkably, I was open to being taught because I truly know nothing about this purely craft side of the cannabis business, and each visit to A Golden State going forward is with full mindfulness and thirst for future knowledge.
My soundtrack from the auditory artist, DF Tram. https://canopyofstars.bandcamp.com/album/the-upsweep
Photo Credit: Warren Bobrow, except for the photo of Nishant Reddy (Courtesy of A Golden State)