The silly season is officially upon us and the craziness has begun. I am heading back home to New Zealand on the 17th (can’t wait) and my things to do pile is getting out of control.
It’s not often that we stop to reflect on what we have accomplished over the last few months, but I am making a tiny slice of time right now for a couple of the more interesting things I’ve taken part in over the last couple of months which I have yet to write about over here.
Number 16 on the 25 Things To Do By 25 list was to take a day off work to volunteer. Mission accomplished but not without war wounds to show for it.
I decided (thanks to a little push from an environmentally conscious friend of mine, thanks D) to get my hands dirty and plant trees as my contribution to society for the day. Firstly, you must know that I am not an outdoorsy type. I don’t like camping, hiking, farms – pretty much anything to do with mud, too much sun and lack of toilets/showers/beds. I am a self confessed city princess, hence the challenge of getting over all that and doing something out of my comfort zone.
I arrived at Conservation Volunteers bright and early at 8am wearing jeans, sneakers and a long sleeved hooded top (sexy attire I know), eager to get started and feeling like an eco warrior. We headed out to Westgate Park which used to be a garbage dump until they cleaned it up 12 years ago (and boy did they do a good job). The park is run completely by volunteers who have to maintain it by planting, weeding, mulching and ensuring that the rabbits don’t eat everything in their path.
My first job was moving mulch from a huge steaming pile onto the drier parts of the park. Running around with wheelbarrows down a steep slope was fairly tough but we were rewarded with juice and biscuits afterwards. I had slapped a tonne of sunscreen on which was just as well as it was stinking hot in Melbourne that day and there was no shade.
Tree planting was next which was the part I was most looking forward to. We planted over 180 plants between about 7 of us. I ended up with dirt down my pants, underneath my (short) fingernails and in my hair but felt great about how much we’d achieved. I even helped out one of the girls who had a screaming fit when she disturbed an ant nest. Usually I’m not a big fan of ants myself (I can feel them crawling all over me for hours after they’re off) but just proceeded to plant around them, too tired to care what they did.
I wanted our lunchbreak to go on forever. I was exhausted, sweaty, my back was aching and I desperately needed a shower but we weren’t done. I was well and truly grumpy during the weeding and it was at this point that I realised I had a scalding red strip along my lower back – fiery sunburn from bending over all day. Urgh. I tried to stay positive and tell myself that yes it was a little uncomfortable for me but that I was doing a good thing here… but I was over it.
When I got home T asked me if I felt wonderful for doing something so selfless. I was lying on my bed not wanting to move and unable to pipe out a positive answer. The next day I also discovered about 30 odd mosquito bites all over my arms. They had eaten me alive through my shirt!
All in all, I AM glad I did it. I’m not proud of being a city princess, but at least I can say that I can get over myself and get out there for a good cause.
I had my second private lesson with the lovely Rachel at the National Institute of Circus Arts on Tuesday night. My first lesson was on the tissue. If you’re unfamiliar with circus acts (and let’s face it, most of us are), the tissue consists of climbing up two long strips of silk hanging from the ceiling. Why Kim, why?
I have always had a little phobia of heights, particularly where there is the option of falling. I hated the monkey bars as a child, the pole, climbing trees etc (plus I wasn’t an athletic youngster and possibly couldn’t have lifted myself even if I’d wanted to). AND I love watching the circus. I always attend NICA’s end of term shows and walk away telling myself I should give it a go. So I have.
God it is tough. My upper body strength is nowhere near what it needs to be to yank myself up ropes made of silk, so I felt a little foolish leaving my first lesson (and oh did I ache in the days afterwards). But I had bought a pack of 4 lessons and damn it I was going to use them all, so I turned up a second time faced with the hoop. The hoop was actually a tad easier to grip onto which meant I could at least hold myself above the ground and (with a little assistance) get up on it. It’s hard work but an interesting pastime, no?