A Meeting of Some Sort
"Well, I returned from the mainland last night after spending some time with my family in California," Eddy rubbed his bare chest with one hand and trying to make coffee with the other. "Please introduce yourself, I see some new faces and some old members were missing. Let's start with you."
"I am James, for the last several years I lived in homeless shelters across California, now I fully extended my stay in the shelters, they send me away and I have no place to live and have very little income to support myself, I called my son living on the Big Island for help, he brought me here, I will do anything on the farm and I am no trouble to nobody," said an old man. James looked healthy, for all his past living in the shelters, he looked clean and well kept.
"Well, for those who weren't into organic farming, let me tell you that your pee is not a waste, it is fertilizer very useful here, and each one of us produce it and so store your pee in milk jugs. You notice that it smells like ammonia because pee or urine is rich in ammonia, a major plant nutrient as Juggernaut, a trained soil scientist in this field can attest, he lives close-by and visits us often," Eddy looked at Juggernaut standing several feet apart behind a wooden dish rack ready to respond but the group ignored him to his disappointment. Perhaps the group thought that throwing animal dung, compost and pee around the plants is all it takes in organic farming and needs no help from a specialist.
Meanwhile, a short plump woman wearing a knee-high flimsy frock continued to dance slowly moving her heavy hips and waving her hands without any coordination as if she was out of control and was trying to interrupt Eddy with silly questions and raising her hand begging Eddy for a high-five. Eddy ignored her for the most part and turned her away when she wants to hug him repeatedly. "Well, we all know Catherine from Kansas, she is living on the farm from last 6 months or so," Eddy at last acknowledged her presence. "No, I have been living here only for 3 months," Catherine corrected him and again tried to hug him.
"Here on the farm you work 3 to 4 hours a day doing chores assigned to you; weeding, harvesting, planting or collecting plant materials and animal dung to make compost. In return, you get to live free on the farm. Look around, this is paradise, sure it rains a lot but the lush green trees, blue skies, bright sunshine and the nearby ocean you can see all day long. Where else you can get this. In California and Florida people pay millions for this living, here it is all free. Please remember to keep the communal kitchen clean, no smoking in the kitchen, please don't use profanities and no fighting, reserve your drinking to weekends when we party. Now is there anybody here good in computers? I need somebody to fix my laptop so I can use to make telephone calls on it," Eddy looked around then a hefty, big set man with baby-face raised his hand. "My name is Jed, I am good in computers, I got laid-off recently from a company after working for five years and I have no savings to rent a place so I came down here to the farm to live in one of the tens, I could fix your computer," Jed looked confident.
"I am Ken and I am an electrician," said a man wearing metal rims looked more like school teacher with good looking brownish beard.
"We need you here, as you all know we live outside the power-grid and depend on solar and wind power, you can help us in fixing poor connections and whatnot."
"Sure, I am also good in fiber optics," added Ken.
"I don't know what the hell fiber-optics meant but certainly if you can re wire my cottage, that will be good," Eddy looked around for other to come forward to introduce themselves and indicate their special skills."
"I am John," said a serious looking guy. "I am here for the last three months, spent several years teaching English in Korea, Vietnam and Thailand, while lived in San Francisco, I managed a poetry club for several years, I am a poet and my father was a professor in English, if I could be of any help to anybody here I will do it," john completed his presentation without any smile on his face.
Juggernaut quietly moved to stand next to John to start a conversation. "I write short stories as a hobby," said Juggernaut and showed a story on his smart phone he just published on the internet for John to read. After a short read, he said "Umm, vocabulary, vocabulary and vocabulary, without vocabulary one cannot write a poem or a story, from what I read you have limited vocabulary but good story line, keep working on your vocab, " John looked at Juggernaut with a look of teacher. "Thank you, I am not good at English but I can only express in English, I am not sure whether I can improve my vocab in English any further than what I have," Juggernaut looked disappointed.
"No, you will improve as time goes."
"Are you working on any story or poem right now?" asked Juggernaut.
"I want to write a novel, a lengthy one based in Alaska; a long journey of a family with huskies and all that," John replied without looking at Juggernaut.
"Well when you are attending the fruit stand on the road side, you can think and write," Juggernaut gave a suggestion.
"Well, right now my responsibilities at the farm were to mow the grass and cut the weeds, with shallow top soil it is difficult to operate a lawn mower without lava rocks interfere ring with the mower blades, I have to be careful, I have already damaged one mower and Eddy was not happy about it," john spoke with authority in his voice and his English sounded more British than American.
Juggernaut could not make anything out of John's conversation, at one point John said he was a serious poet but now he wants write a lengthy novel based in Alaska.
"I am Lucy and I am 80 years old," said a petite wiry woman in jeans. She has thin body with little flesh and if looses any weight she may just disappear. "I born in Omaha Nebraska and then when I was 6 years old moved across to Council Bluff, Iowa on April 11th 1938, and again moved for good to Oregon on June 4th 1940, I moved to Big Island on December 25th Christmas day in 1998 and since then living in a old school bus on this farm. When I was 47 years ago on September 27, I took celibacy not have sex and avoid meat all together. I do duties of recycling on the farm; I collect all the weeds and vegetable waste from the communal kitchen and put it on a compost pile to make compost."
Juggernaut was so impressed with Lucy and how she remembered the specific dates of the events in her life, he gave her a big hug.
"So, you are a scientist?" she smiled pressing Juggernaut's hand.
"Well, I don't work anymore, I am retired now and I write short stories as a hobby."
"You look too young to retire."
"Well, I am much older than you think with lots of health problems," said Juggernaut.
"If you turned into a vegetarian like me you feel better and all the diseases will go away."
"Well, I born into vegetarian family but started eating meat after II left my old country but now at this age, I am considering to revert back to vegetarianism."
"That will do well for you," said the old lady hugging Juggernaut.
Several other members came forward to introduce themselves. Among them were a health care professional from Georgia, a middle aged man looks more like a football player with large biceps and neck from Maine and a man with weathered face and red hair from Washington state. He looked as if he went through tough times. The long standing residents Mike and Anne did not say much except accepted the responsibilities of taking care of the farm and managing the manpower whenever Eddy was out of town doing some business. Eddy called the meeting to an end and walked fast to his van, his office parked partially under the tent.
The residents started leaving the community kitchen and started walking slowly to their tents or small wooden cottages scattered on the 5 acre farm close to the ocean. Juggernaut saw Catherine walking towards her wooden shack in dancing mode with her hands in the air as if she wants to touch the sky. Outside her cottage was large towel depicting Jamaican national flag hanging on a clothes line tied on both ends to the trees. Juggernaut thought of asking Catherine if she ever visited Jamaica but fearing her response could be unpredictable, he chose not to approach her.
Conspicuously missing at the meeting was Roy. Eddy didn't even care to mention the existence of Roy on the farm though he said donkey dung is very useful in composting. At a distance, Juggernaut noticed Roy grazing on green grass growing on the lava rock, the lonely donkey on the farm. Donkeys on the farm sometimes attract wild donkeys but apparently Roy has no friends yet.
"I am sure Eddy didn't care to mention me at the meeting though I am sole supplier of dung on the farm, I can only put out so much. Just human pee amounts to nothing in supplying nutrients to the plants, it is absurd. Eddy should consider adopting more wild donkeys, get a flock lambs and goats or even a herd of cows to graze on cane grass, as a large group, we can supply enough organics to make compost for organic farming," Roy looked disappointed.
"In the next meeting I will make sure you will be there with me to make a point that a dozen farm residents collective pee is amount to nothing compared to an output from a donkey. More animals are needed on the farm to produce enough organics as you put it to make compost to support the organic farming," Juggernaut gently rubbed its neck to comfort Roy. Only Juggernaut understood the value of what comes from Roy's rear end but also from its front end bray, a word of wisdom