Orick is a bag of mixed nuts. I hear it’s the land of Humboldt County cast offs, which is saying something because the lost coast is a land of contrary extremes where court house corruption, classism, criminally inclined slum lords, lawless property managers, high rents and homelessness are oddly juxtaposed with cops who get promoted after kicking unarmed hippies to death and an Indian curse keeps weird infections, black tar addiction so excessive the stats rival any in the golden state. The staggering crime statistics, local elites, unchecked discrimination and ugly unemployment/low wage pt jobs reflect a certain doom. In the setting, which is lush, mystical and lovely, one comes to the kush land expecting open minds, pungent peace pipes burning and an easy life as a stoner trimming, growing, strumming, mixing, small biz zing, lawyering, teaching, building and lots of things better than wasting away in the Betty H. Day Center or sleeping in a marsh under a tarp in downpours.
In a way, Orick is an affordable retreat for marginal sorts. The rent is cheap, no ne is all that snobby and being a depraved drunk, gambler, fiend, thug or tramp is a plus. You fit right in if your an undesirable and the deputies are not known to do much about law breakers until shots are fired and even then... There are pockets of normalcy. A nice little grammar school, the Palm Cafe, many modest homes and a couple churches. Betty at the Deli and Martha at the Palm are like everyone’s benevolent and wise aunties. They employ the folks no one else will, kind of adopting the lost but not yet total losses who they also House and help out out in other ways. No one is young in orick except the children and you see little of them unless they live nearby. The market is run by a surly crew, including Deep who is happily expanding his fortune by way of the boon in booze sales and lack of other outlets for most of what you need which he marks up obscenely. Next door is the PO where you have to get mail since there is no delivery in the tiny town. It’s a nice routine most of orick has. You go in between 9 and 1 to get the packages you will be expecting because if you’re in orick you become an Amazon prime member or give up buying anything deep and Betty don’t sell. You could go to town but his too is an ordeal given the limits of the county itself. That’s ok because you get to ask the pretty sweet PO lady what you got that day. Even when she smiles and says she’s sorry, your box isn’t here yet, you’re glad you came. Down to earth, open and a genuinely good soul, the PO lady is unlike the usual Orick resident. She grew up in Orick where her folks own property and work at Pelican Bay and she’s started her own family there, which may be strange given the Orick rep and rather ruined appearance. There aren’t may places more beautiful than the seaside rainforest it’s mile long stretch of the 101 goes through, but the trailer parks, saggy motels and copious wood carving outlets are decidedly seedy. In short, Orick has seen better days. Maybe it will see more. The summer tourists pass through and transient come and go. But there is something comforting about the PO and the way all of us come together and bask in the rare humanity of the part time clerk who keeps our parcels and a smile for everyone.