The Yoga of Yellow Leafing

Since the dawn of agriculture people, primarily women, have taken to the fields at this time of year to prepare for harvest. It’s one of those timeless activities – like pulling water from an old fashioned well. Whenever I did that while living in India, I would have flashbacks to past lives of being one of the women around the well, chattering and gossiping, then hefting a heavy bucket on top of my head and carrying it home. I hope that tradition always continues, somewhere.

I used to watch women harvesting the fields in India, a different technique used in every corner of the vast subcontinent. They were colorful birds fluttering around, gracefully whisking up the grains with accuracy and speed. I think of them now, as harvest season begins to envelop the whole county, and I know that I am not alone in my garden, preparing the girls for their upcoming debuts. Every day, while Swami waters and the sun is just a hint of a glow above the surrounding hills, my dog Tipu and I (and often my cat Frisco too) head out to the garden, wrapped up warmly in the morning mist. I don my fingerless long gloves (actually just old socks with the tops cut off) and wander the garden, wishing a good day to all and waiting to hear who calls out first for some attention.

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Inevitably, one girl is flashing her golden leaves in my direction and I know she is going to be my first appointment. It’s like a beauty parlor for cannabis plants and I am the beautician, ready to make them even more gorgeous.

And so I dive in – carefully and consciously plucking the very most yellow leaves from all over the plant, the older leaves that are about to turn brown and then have a greater chance of attracting mildew and mold when it gets damp. It can take half an hour to do each girl carefully – because just as you think you have them all, another appears, a flash of yellow, deep in the interior green jungle. And that’s when you realize you are wrapped around the girl, completely entwined, legs straddled awkwardly and your arms carefully knitted amongst the budding branches. This is when you really get to know your plants – it’s about as intimate as you can get with a plant!

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It is Yellow Leafing Yoga. You stretch to unthinkable lengths to get that teasing yellow leaf way on the tip of the top bud. Gently, delicately, not to disturb the precious flowers, the devoted Yellow Leafer becomes like Mr. Gumby and yes, you get that leaf! What a relief – and when you step back after 30 minutes of intense beautifying and see the girl all green and pretty – it’s an ancient joy I can’t really describe. All I know it is absolutely addicting and extremely difficult to leave the garden and stop – as you walk towards the gate, girls will call your name and taunt you, “what about me?” they ask and a hint of golden leaf catches your eye, you start to reach out – but No, you must stop now. The sun grows warm and the plants get too sticky to work with, anyways.

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