Apparently yesterday was World Sleep Day, and I “celebrated” it by getting about an hour and a half of sleep in the morning, and even that split in two, as I woke up somewhere around 6:30 PM to go to the toilet. And then my internal clock was a bit early, because I woke up again at 7:20 AM, ten minutes before my alarm was to go off, and actually tried to get as much rest as possible even so, meaning that I was just about falling asleep again when it did go off. And that was all the sleep I got yesterday, not getting any nap in the evening, though I did go to bed shortly after 4 AM last night instead of the usual 5 AM.
Either way, managed to stick to the schedule and leave shortly before 8:30 AM… Only to find just a couple of minutes later that I had quite a problem, in the form of the front half of the bottom of my left boot, as I had taken my boots out again for the day, coming loose. But it’s reasonably thick and solid, so it wasn’t flapping all over the place or getting rolled up under my foot and the back part seemed to still hold well enough to prevent the whole thing from coming off, and either way I didn’t have time to go back and try to glue it back and going back to discard the boots and get the new shoes wasn’t an option I cared about, so I just kept going, albeit wondering whether I should somehow try to make myself ask if anybody somehow happened to have some glue after getting there, and at one point considering to quickly run into a store I was passing by and grab some myself with the 5 RON I had taken, out of the amount I’ll need when I’ll go pick up the books next week, initially in case the metro card somehow won’t work and I’ll need to get one with two trips to get myself there on time, and then also back of course.
Eventually, before arriving at the Botanical Garden, I had concluded that I should be more or less fine for the day if I won’t be getting in a lot of mud, so gave up on the idea of trying to mention it, and then can pretty much say that I mostly forgot about it as time passed. Did check it a few times and tried not to get that boot in piles of leaves or where the ground was muddier, or walk or otherwise move in ways which would worsen the problem, but that just happened when I remembered, which was mostly in the first minutes after we actually started working and then again at the end, much less so in between.
Got there right on time, being at the correct entrance of the Botanical Garden at 9:15 AM, just a few others having arrived earlier, as they had said to arrive ten to 15 minutes before the 9:30 AM listed time, so there will be time for everyone to register. So, after giving my name, I had nothing to do but stand around until the others also gathered and the person in charge said we should get moving to the place where the equipment was, where we were told what we were going to do that day and given a little but pretty funny speech about safety. Then gardening gloves were handed to everyone, but they were very flimsy and I refused them, as I had brought the much better pair bought last year, for planting trees. And then it was left to each to grab a rake, and for some to also get baskets, the initial idea being that two people were to share a basket and put the leaves in it, before making piles and loading them in the tractor when it’ll get back there on its route.
That wasn’t how it worked though, because there was a lot to gather despite the area we worked on being the Hill of Conifers and people were working fast. So a lot of piles were formed and quickly grew, the one tractor being unable to handle the load, filling rapidly and then making its slow way back down to unload while more and more piles were left to grow on the side of the road. Do have to note that this is what happened in the higher area, where I was, as others were working lower and when, after 12:30 PM, I went to get myself a cup of hot tea from where this was offered to volunteers, I saw they were using large plastic bags that they were filling with leaves and bringing to a certain area.
Of course, me being me, I had nothing to do with anyone else at first, so had no basket around, was making small piles and carrying them to some basket or bag I could find nearby, but the distance grew as I was falling behind the others in the area I was in, so I eventually moved to be closer to the large pile being formed and to be able to work faster, going a second time over areas others had gone over once already, as there was a fair amount left anyway. And then, when the tractor arrived and people started helping load that pile into it, I went to help, and that’s when things changed, a woman I can say managed to form, more or less keep together and to some extent organize a group around herself over the course of the day first asking for my help there and then, once the tractor filled and left, asking me to help her move the next smaller piles formed on the side of the road into one bigger one.
So I went from no basket or bag around and nothing to do with other volunteers, to working with someone else, each of us holding one side of a basket and moving leaves to bigger piles. Others were usually helping us fill the basket, and if they didn’t rush to do so right away she’d ask for help, so we usually added a few more handfuls and mainly kept carrying until a few of the smaller piles in the area were united. Then we also went to the other side of the road, where the slope was steep and a smaller number of people were making much smaller piles, which would have been particularly inefficient to carry to the tractor when it got there again, so we got those and put them in the larger piles as well. That took quite a toll though, since there may have just been a few steps between each pile and the road, but needing to climb that steep slope while carrying a full basket for those few steps again and again sure added up in terms of effort.
Eventually she needed a break from carrying and I went back to raking, but after a bit I decided to try to offer someone else the same thing which had been offered to me. The thing is that I had spotted from the beginning, as we were waiting around the entrance, a girl who gave me the impression of being in a similar situation, in the sense of not dealing well with people, and then I saw her again, just about completely alone in an area, making small piles on the steep slope. So I just went straight to her, somehow managed to ask why doesn’t she make a single pile, and started doing just that pretty much before she could even react, though when she did she suggested uniting them into one that wasn’t the one I had started to move another to, so I then helped her do that.
When the tractor returned, I got back to loading again, and she also came to the side of the road that the rest of us were on, but as the piles were being loaded and the tractor moved on, I saw her again drop behind and end up pretty much alone, rather carefully making a pile of what had been left behind. So, when the tractor was full and ready to leave, I grabbed one of the baskets and walked back to her, to load her pile and take it to the next larger one left, and eventually we raked together for a little while and exchanged a few words, though she wandered away again after a bit, which left me rather alone and starting to form a small pile.
Quickly came up with a plan for that situation though, starting to just rake along the side of the road, in order to drag my pile down with me as I was making my way to join a group formed lower, and the woman who could be said to have brought me into the mix came after a little while to ask whether I wanted her to get the pile I was forming down for me or I was waiting for someone else, and after I said I was bringing it down by raking the way I was she said she could at least take what I already had, so it’ll be less to drag down, which I agreed to. And then I finally made my way down to that group, which could be said to have rather formed around her, and remained in that area until the end, helping load the tractor when it returned and otherwise raking, also helped by the fact that she went after someone who was gathering rakes left behind by others and managed to recover two that were better suited for the task at hand, calling me to give me one of them.
At 2 PM, as initially announced, we were told to stop working, though I’d say there was a fair amount left to do even just in that area and there were enough piles still to load in the tractor to fill it a few more times. There are three more days, of course, just that I only signed up for that one. Either way, a few people actually took a little convincing to stop and we were scattered as we made our way back to the starting area. Though there were others behind me, I actually got there quite late, as the organizers were about to start handing out the diplomas and rewards, after taking some time to try to get the worst of the mud off my boots after seeing the girl I mentioned before try to do the same.
Speaking of her, also tried to exchange a few more words with her then, as we were struggling with our boots, telling her she could still sign up to plant trees in two weeks, as she had seemed somewhat interested when I had mentioned it before, and wondering how to squeeze in an explanation as to why I had approached her in the first place. She seemed at least uninterested in any more conversation though, if not even bothered by me saying anything again, and then rather ran ahead, so I didn’t get to say that and then couldn’t get myself to try again when I bumped into her again after leaving the Botanical Garden, when she rather oddly seemed to be heading back, picking at the plant she had received.
Since I mentioned that, a small plant was part of the reward each of the volunteers received, though we were given little information about it and told there will be an e-mail with more in about a week, until which time it should last well enough either way. The rest of the reward was formed of a permit granting four entries to the Botanical Garden, which may be used by anyone but only applies to the park and not the museum or the greenhouses, a badge and a diploma confirming participation in the 2017 spring cleaning of the Botanical Garden. Unfortunately, my diploma lists my name as Negut Lucian instead of Robert or all of it, but I left it like that, though I saw one other person complain about the listed name and have another diploma quickly filled with the name she had said, as the names were written by hand anyway.
Oh, and I also grabbed myself another little “reward” at the end, in the form of a handful of ramson leaves, after seeing a couple of others do the same. Was funny at first, as we were smelling garlic in an area and couldn’t figure out what it was until somebody pointed out that there were some ramsons there as well, but the main area that was pretty much covered in them was at the bottom, so a couple of girls were actually busy picking themselves a handful when their names were called for the diplomas, and at the end I decided to follow that example. And then I ate them in the salad I made that afternoon, though I first soaked them and then also briefly boiled them, thinking they’re probably not exactly meant for human consumption and who knows what they may have been sprayed with.
Before ending this, I also have to mention another troubling development though, and that’s the fact that my phone seems to have gotten worse while there. Whether simply because of how I moved with it in my pocket or because I struck it through my pants, or maybe even because some dirt made its way to and through it, I don’t know, but I meant to write a message on it as I was leaving, not to send but just to remember something, and found that the keys weren’t responding at all. After hitting it a couple of times, some worked again, but sometimes only a few times, after which I had to hit or shake it again, and the OK key seemed to stop working for good after a little while, nothing I did seeming to have any effect anymore. Fortunately, albeit very oddly, it now seems to work again, and most of the time I seem to even be able to move up again, which was something that had mostly stopped working quite some time ago. It is a serious reason for concern though, even more so considering that I want to be able to send a message if needed when I’ll be at Branesti, on April 1 if the schedule remains the same.