As of yesterday, this post was going to be about something totally different. Then, this morning, Scott casually passed along a couple of interesting things he found on twitter (one was a stovetop tort recipe, and the other was a link to the Brown’s Creek Cleanup hosted by Hands On Nashville). It was 8:15 when I read them. I thought about going. The thing started at 9. I thought a little more. I finished the bowl of leftover beef larb I was eating for breakfast because I for some reason wanted nothing more than that as my first meal of the day. I looked out the window. I thought about the stuff I “should” be doing today, right now, this week, sometime…
And then I clicked the signup button because I honestly just wanted to. It was a beautiful, cool, sunny day. It sounded like a great way to do something I like doing (being outside) and yet in a purposeful manner. I like exploring new places and being in nature, and yet sometimes I start to get really weird and existential if I spend too much time walking aimlessly around. Hiking is one thing, somehow that’s different, but just going for a walk in a park can sometimes be the opposite of calming if I’m in the wrong existential freakout space. Having something to do, something to work at, while being in nature is rather satisfying. Probably because doing work is actually rather satisfying. I have recently been able to admit that the closest thing I have to a hobby so far is “chores.” Sad, or great decision?
So I just signed up, and five minutes later I was getting dressed in some old painty clothes and shoes, and I headed out.
Now, to be perfectly honest, the worst part of it all was the beginning– the standing around drinking provided coffee (yay!) and eating provided donuts (should have passed on this, or just eaten a half.. the sugar rush so early in the morning was not a wise choice). I hadn’t gone there to socialize. I had gone there to do some dirty work in the sacred cathedral of the woods. But the cleanup was sponsored by Barefoot Wine so they had a tent and some swag and a bunch of people, and we had to get our gear and orientation on, so I awkwardly managed it for a little while. Then we got down there by the creek and started climbing up and down embankments beneath the trees, picking up trash ranging from the expected plastic bottles and wrappers to the exotic dumped carpets, guardrails(?, or gutters?) having been there so long, thick roots had grown over segments of them, and shopping carts in the water.
That part was great. I spent some time digging out that metal guardrail-or-gutter for a while, and then in that area discovered some unidentified hard plastic (possibly a kiddie pool years before), what looked like shingles (but kinda crumbly), mentioned mass of carpet (mostly buried in the hillside), and some bonus material like barbed wire and a disintegrating blanket. I dug a bunch of crap out of a hillside with my gloved hands and was happy as a sweatsoaked clam (with the exception of my reaction to a mosquito bite).
Someone brought a shovel and worked out the metal thing. The carpet became my nemesis, but was collectively forsaken when it was revealed to be too large and too firmly entrenched. I actually went back with an exacto knife to cut into it so I could at least remove the mass that we had managed to excavate, leaving the unexcavated for some future rescue.
Hands On Nashville, it turns out, is a fairly easy and intuitive way to connect to volunteer opportunities of all types, put on by many different organizations all over the city.
I encourage Nashvillians to check it out. It took me less than five minutes to make a volunteer account and register for the event, and now I’m browsing other possible opportunities. (Although I could not have imagined doing this with my previous job, I’m glad I can now consider it a possibility… makes me reflect on that previous job a little more, and on other life choices.. but that is another entry for another day) If you want to get your woods work therapy on, there’s a Radnor Lake thing coming up in a couple weekends.
If you’re into different stuff, you can filter the list based on your preferences.