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Planting Trees a Second Time and the Rest of the Week

Since I included last week’s run in the previous post, I’ll now skip straight to Thursday, when I finally got around to trying to glue my boots back, as they had been waiting for me since March 18. Tried to do both too, since the bottom of the right one was coming loose on both sides as well, just the bit at the front preventing it from ending up the same as the left one, and that didn’t seem too secure anymore either. That didn’t work too well, as it didn’t allow me to use this type of glue properly, so I don’t think I did much of anything for the right one and only one side of the left one seemed to be holding on pretty well, with the other still pretty loose and the front far from fixed as well, yet that was enough for it to hold on Saturday. Did make me feel rather odd Thursday evening though, as the vapors released by this type of glue have certain effects if inhaled and, while I left my window open for some time after using it, I eventually closed it yet the boots were left in my room until I went to eat at night, so was wondering why was I feeling the way I was for a while, before figuring it out.

Friday I went to a small event in front of the Russian embassy, meant to show solidarity with the Russian protesters. A formal notification had also been submitted and a protocol signed, so we could stay in front of the embassy, not being pushed across the road as other times, and the gendarmes had no complaints to make even when some briefly got close to the embassy wall to take pictures or film. I did that myself for a few of the pictures I took and I just noticed one of them glance my way, but didn’t do or say anything else. Those pictures of mine aren’t too useful though, as I had forgotten the resolution at 640×480 and only realized it after leaving.
The event was to start at 6 PM and I got there just a few minutes after that time, only finding a few others there, but about 40 attended in the end, though once again just a few were left when I walked away as well, around 7:45 PM, despite the event being scheduled to last until 8 PM. The two representatives who had been invited to talk to the ambassador were already inside when I got there and it was around, or at least close to, 7:30 PM when they finally came out, by which time others had been making jokes about sending messengers to plead for their release for a while. In the statements made to the media and the talks with the other participants they explained that the discussions went nowhere, the Russian side launching accusations and doing everything to distract from the matter at hand, on which topic they said, apparently using just these words, that human rights are not above Russian law.

Then came Saturday, when I planted trees again, taking part in the event organized close to Bucharest by the same group which had organized the event I took part in last year. Of course, the fact that I have serious issues with their other views remained and actually got even worse, considering other recent events I saw them at and the fact that the organizer of this particular event even took part in that march against abortion the week before and posted messages also clearly supporting the initiative to change the Constitution to clearly define family as based on the marriage between one man and one woman and lashing out against those who take issue with enforcing this “traditional family” concept. And they also still wanted to call to confirm participation, and this time I did answer, though a post stated that many others didn’t. But at least this time they also sent e-mails with the details and posted on the event page as well, so people had the information they needed.
Or most people had it, at least, as there was one guy there who started talking to everyone and kept saying he didn’t see any e-mail before leaving and hadn’t been called. He said a lot of things actually. Also claimed not to know that this time we had to pay a part of the price of the bus ride, 10 RON each, but paid when asked. Unfortunately, he sat next to me on said bus and kept trying to chat on the way, while also being quite busy trying to get to his e-mail to look for the code we were supposed to show in order to confirm our participation and get some points for the future events organized by the same group. Since he couldn’t do that on his phone at that moment, he asked someone else to create a hotspot for him before giving up after a while, then asked others to let him borrow their phones and check there, pressing when he was refused until he triggered some rather annoyed reactions. Not that the part about the code was working anyway, the organizer saying he had problems with it and was unable to scan.
But to get back to what I did, I set my alarm for 6:30 AM and might have gotten up to 45 minutes of sleep as a result, since I might have fallen asleep faster than usual. Got dressed, put the two sandwiches and the washed apple I had set aside before going to bed in my backpack which was otherwise stuffed with things I took just in case and didn’t use, quickly grabbed something to eat then as well, went to the bathroom and left at 7:15 AM, as planned. We were supposed to be at the meeting place at 8 AM and I didn’t want to risk being late, after all.
Well, could have slept a while longer, because I rushed, the metro was already there when I got to the station, and I was at the meeting place at 7:45 AM, finding only a few others also already waiting. The bus was already there, but even the organizer showed up a few minutes later, at which time I was eating the sandwiches, to get that out of the way as well. And we only left at 8:25 AM, since he wanted to wait longer, in case some were late, some indeed arriving well after 8 AM. Though it was just about full, only one bus was needed, unlike last year.
After some confusion on the way, since the route we were supposed to take was blocked and the driver had to find some other way, we arrived at the destination at 9:05 AM, which was actually on schedule. Found another bus there, with a group that eventually took part in the same activity, but behaved as if they were separate from us before actually going into the forest, seemed to mostly stay in a somewhat different part of the area where we planted while working, and then left around 2 PM on their own, the rest of us staying a little longer. Admittedly, the schedule included in the e-mail stated that the actual planting will end at 1:30 PM, with “taking pictures, enjoying the results and having lunch” listed for the next hour, followed by “gathering trash” before “heading home” at 3 PM. And I also heard the organizer tell the bus driver that we’ll be leaving no later than 3 PM.
But I’m getting too far ahead again. Once at the destination, a quite long wait followed before some hoes which later proved to be quite useless were distributed and we left for the forest. During that time, I ate the apple as well and then mostly stood around a few others who also seemed to be feeling uncomfortable and not really caring to have much to do with the rest. Three of us eventually ended up rather close together and the one girl broke the ice by saying something to the other guy and we exchanged a few more words after that, but the fourth stayed a little way away even from us.
I wrote down that we got to the forest at 10:15 AM and I think that means we arrived at the location where we were to plant trees at that time, though I’m not absolutely sure anymore. The schedule in the e-mail stated that we should have actually started planting at that time, after 15 minutes of receiving instructions, but some worker who was there actually started complaining about us volunteers, which obviously bothered people, some raising their voices to say that in that case we should just leave. The matter seemed to be somewhat sorted out when the person in charge spoke up, making a pretty interesting introduction before allowing another worker to provide us with the necessary instructions. He had also told said worker that he’ll just have five minutes, but he started haltingly telling us various stories about the area and didn’t seem to care to get to the point until somebody shouted that he’s starting to forget why we came there that day and he finally decided to quickly tell and then also show us what to do.
The problem was that, unlike last year, the holes weren’t already dug, and the hoes we had received from the organizers might have been the useful tool the year before, but weren’t good for actually digging, and only a handful of spades were to be found there. So the idea was to form groups of three, one person with a spade, one with a hoe, and one with no tool, but even that wouldn’t have really worked due to the small number of spades. But people found a way eventually, more or less, and I also found myself in a group with a couple, as I had a hoe, he had a spade and she didn’t have anything. Was rather lost for a while at first, walking around a little and wondering what to do, until I turned back and found them starting right in the corner of the area, and when I tried to help the guy asked for my name and made the introductions right away.
The thing is that I pretty much did the least, one of the “official” pictures showing pretty much how things went: The poor guy struggled with the hard part, digging the holes, making his way through all the roots in the ground, his girlfriend took saplings, held them in the hole and pushed most of the earth back in, and I pushed the rest, getting a couple of thorns in my left hand despite the gardening gloves, and trod on it to compact the soil. We had been told to put a third back in, compact it, do the same with the second third, then put the final third on top and leave that as it was, not tread on it as well, so that was what we did. A few times, after letting him dig ahead, the two of us tried to plant separately, each dealing with one sapling, but that was obviously slower. Also, a few times she tried to compact the soil while I held the sapling, the smaller feet and shoes helping in smaller holes, but my boots were much better suited for it. And a few times she tried to dig as well, and while she quickly gave up each time, not finishing any hole, I didn’t even try, knowing I wouldn’t have managed much. Used the hoe a few times to try to help him cut through some roots, but it was otherwise quite useless, just something we carried around.
For most of the time, we worked on the last row of trees in the cleared area, which was supposed to be planted with common dogwood even though most of the area was supposed to be planted with oak. However, there seemed to be far too few common dogwood saplings, so when we needed more the workers there gave dog rose instead, saying that’s another name for it, only for the one who had shown us what to do to have a look and say we planted the wrong kind of tree. He then took the dog rose saplings… And returned with them, saying they are indeed out of common dogwood and apparently that’s what it had been replaced with. And that was rather fortunate, because the small roots meant holes didn’t need to be as deep, though the guy usually did his best to dig them properly anyway. Was rather odd that very little of the sapling was above the root though, at times barely a few centimeters being left out of the ground.
Eventually, after reaching a part of the row which had already been planted by others, we moved to a row which was supposed to be planted with oaks, towards the center of the area, where the places for the holes weren’t even marked, so the guy tried to respect the distance by eye. He had suggested going there, being far from the edge and hoping there will be fewer roots, yet he found the situation being the same, if not worse, and the much larger oak saplings required deeper holes, so the work was even harder. I also ran around a little then, bringing saplings and then also a bucket, as we had left ours behind at first and I couldn’t find one when I took the first load. Also left them for a bit when that other group left, as at that point we had been left just about alone in the area, those being the ones who had been planting nearby, and I wanted to find the organizer and find out what the plan was, being told that yes, it would appear that they left, and we were going to follow soon enough, but not to worry because they won’t leave anyone behind. When I told this to the guy, he said they’ll leave me somewhere in case I’ll somehow miss the bus, since they came by car, then made a joke about taking me in a different direction, which confused both me and his girlfriend, who was trying to explain both where I should be going and where they needed to go.
We were still working when I heard the organizer tell someone else to gather the rest, which were grouped quite some distance away from us, but there didn’t seem to be any rush, so I kept doing what I was doing and some of the workers came to help us as well. And they sure knew what they were doing, working alongside us, telling the guy to stop trying to cut through the roots and just find some way around them, as all that’s needed is a bit of space to get the sapling’s root deep enough, not a completely clear hole, and also telling me not to compact the soil so carefully, but instead to only tread on it once for each of the first two thirds. As such, with their help, we could quickly finish that part of that row, up to the area which had been just abandoned by the other group and including the empty holes they had left.
After taking the tools and bucket back, while waiting for the others to get ready to leave, or in fact first to gather for some group pictures, I heard workers talk about what we had managed, saying we planted half of what was needed at best. And that was what I had seen as well, nobody getting to much of the area. Yet the organizers posted that 12000 saplings had been planted, the initial target being 15000, though the information we found there listed 20000, or more exactly 6700 per hectare, two meters between rows and 75 centimeters between trees on each row, and the area had three hectares. And they also stated that over 400 volunteers participated, though I was thinking we had been at most half as many as last year, when we had been a bit over 300.
Either way, we left at 2:45 PM, I took the last of my pictures on the way back to the bus and, after checking that everyone was there, we got going at 3:25 PM. Interestingly, two people who had arrived by bus didn’t return with it, and while the organizer knew of one of them, who had apparently also come from another city, finding a second person missing led to some confusion and him trying to call to find out what happened, but he eventually said he must have left some other way, though I’m not sure he actually confirmed that. And yes, that very talkative guy, who had also managed to persuade the workers to give him an oak sapling, sat next to me again and I couldn’t even write down the time we left at right away, since as soon as he saw me take my pencil and little notebook out he asked what did I mean to do with those and I just put them back and waited, mostly ignoring him until he moved behind me, to sit next to that girl who had broken the ice between those three of us at first. She had sat behind me then, though she hadn’t been there during the first part of the trip, and didn’t sit at the window, so was blocking a seat and making it clear she didn’t want anybody sitting next to her, but after that guy turned to ask her a few things she did move to the window and he took that as his cue to move next to her and keep talking. Assume he was trying to pick her up, but who knows.

After returning to Bucharest, the initial plan was to check out the science fiction and fantasy fair I had also checked out right after the planting last year, as the dates matched again, and then buy myself a pizza, and maybe also a cake from a hypermarket if I’ll get a cheaper pizza and still have a little left, as it couldn’t be enough for a cake from a confectionery. But I had pretty much given up on the pizza and cake before getting back, thinking I couldn’t afford wasting the money I had set aside on something I’ll consume at once, even if I had set them aside just for that, and then also gave up on the fair when the bus driver agreed to let people out if some wanted to get out at red lights, and the second time he did this was at a metro station that’s one stop away from mine, so I hopped off there as well and just took the metro, while in order to get to the fair it’d have been a good idea to go all the way to the end, being dropped off in the same place where we had gathered in the morning.
Did stuff myself after getting back though, making myself something to eat, so at least that was taken care of. Was all sorts of messed up though, exhausted, dehydrated, I assume badly so since even I noticed it and I don’t usually even feel thirst, sunburned on the back of my neck and my ears… And feeling down otherwise as well, also because we hadn’t managed to do much in general and I was unhappy with my part in it as well, but maybe even more so because this was another experience I wanted to share with Andra and couldn’t… And because spending the day with that couple made this hurt even more, especially since it was clear they were together for a long time despite being young. Looked them up, saw they’re together since 2011, and while I didn’t see their ages, she finished college last year.

Did go to that fair Sunday though, after rather surprisingly waking up at a reasonable hour. Walked there and back, since dad had the metro card, but not sure it’d have helped much anyway. At least a part of the way was nice, with flowered trees and that scent, but my brain kept wanting to get back to sleep and I occasionally needed to remind myself to keep walking. And I walked all the way and back in order to just spend a few minutes looking around there, despite perhaps having been able to buy two books I may have been interested in, oddly enough written by a Romanian author, with the money I hadn’t spent on pizza and possibly cake. That’d have been possible if the listed discount applied to the price on the sticker on the back and wasn’t already included in it, but I only “processed” that after leaving, and not completely even then.
Still like the crowd that attends that fair though. Not many, it’d be a problem if there would be many as it takes place in small locations, but you can see it’s a crowd for science fiction and fantasy, comics and other geeky things. Just in the brief time I was there, saw a girl at the stand of the store I recently got the new books from buying something by the same two authors, though not the same books, saying she’s bothered by translations in Romanian and talking about what I believe was the time Sapkowski was supposed to come to the major book fair from here and then didn’t. A guy with long hair and a jeans vest making a beeline for the comics and grinning from ear to ear when he got there. A girl quietly checking out comics as well, but seeming to try to vanish into the corner, blend in with the wall and not have anything to do with anyone while doing so. Another who seemed to have bought herself a book which she was happily holding while having picked herself a place to observe as much of the area from without attracting much attention. Understandably, draws people not keen on other people, or on this “reality” for that matter.


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