Ain’t nothing to it but to do it I guess.
A went on a tour of a Spice Farm in Jamaica and a man there changed the course of my life.
I guess that’s the simplest way I can say it.
Part Two of Two. Song 160.
Many years ago, I was a guest on the farm of a man whose name I didn’t know until this year. Until my birthday in fact. And it’s not for lack of trying. I had wondered about him ever since we met. But I could never find any trace of him on the internet. It would seem, that I just couldn’t see the first chapter, even though it was right there, where it always had been.
This amazing man was one of the kindest and funniest people I have ever had the pleasure to know. He took us all over his insane farm full of plants and herbs, some which seemed to be other worldly on account of their beauty and in some cases just their sheer scale. He explained that although he had been born in Jamaica he had traveled all over the world studying and working and meeting people. At some point realized that the land he was from was one of the best places on the planet earth to grow things. And so he came home.
He began a farm where he grew and experimented with plants, often receiving things to grow from all the colleagues he had met. He showed us so many things. Like a plant that when you rubbed the leaves it became hot in your hands. He gave us each a giant leaf of Basil to put in our wallets because “It’s good luck. If you keep Basil in your wallet it will never be empty.” Get it? At one point he even asked us for a list of ailments but the only one we could think of was “lady times”. So he showed us Rose-hips and told us about a tea you could make for cramps. He showed us so many things that I can’t even begin to list or even remember all of them.
Except for the Aloe.
While standing next to a large array of Aloe plants, this man broke off an arm from one and showed us the gel that is inside. He commented that many people knew it was good for cuts, but that most people didn’t know it was good for other things as well. Like your eyes. He then squeezed the Aloe directly into his. Right there in front of us, he stood, laughing in the sunshine, blinking through the green goo. It was amazing and it was bizarre. And we were already so charmed by him that if I remember correctly, we were all in hysterics when he said,
“You will never believe what it looks like.”
And I guess he was right, because I never have. But not in the way he meant. I have never forgotten the sight of him that day. And something inside me knew even then, I would someday get to see him again.
After the tour, we bought some spices and herbs, said farewell, then returned to our hotel and the next day to the States. For years, I often thought about that moment, so much so, that during a particularly crappy time in my life, I even found myself standing in front of a display of Aloe plants in the Home Depot deeply considering trying it myself. It seemed weird, yet not weird at all, and maybe just weird enough. I had been crying a lot, and not sleeping much. And well, my eyes hurt.
Although I still have never gotten the courage to actually try it, I did make the idea of doing so, and a journey to find him, a central part of a Science Fiction story I wrote called “The Ambassadors.” The general idea was that there are people on this earth who are “turned on” and have the ability to “turn on” other people. The thing they share is based on knowledge and an ability to think differently, and ultimately, love. And there is a reason. The Others are coming, and they don’t want it to be a War. But they know what we’re like. What Humans are like. And so they decide to create Ambassadors among us so that there can be peace.
I told you it was Science Fiction.
In my story, this girl does actually try it, and well, nothing happens. Sort of. She has a dream that night about realizing she has somehow never seen the very first chapter of her favorite book. One that she had read a million times. So the next day, after trying to find the farm on the internet she remembers that she bought a bag of spices. And then, at least she has a name. Many adventures ensue, but one of the most important things is that she finally makes it back to the farm only to find it burned to the ground. It’s then that she realizes the War has already begun.
I guess the funny thing is, it’s based on real life. I have a bag of spices. And I have a name. But it has never lead me anywhere. Until my birthday this year. I pulled it out again because I still think about him. And that’s when I saw it. The tiny print. The name, address and even the fucking phone number down the side.
Somehow, I had missed the first chapter.
And well, as it turns out, the War has already begun.
Buckston Alexander Harrison • August 24,1958 – March 22, 2010