JASMINE’S REPORT MARCH

Welcome back! Jasmin here with more stories from last month. Spring is almost there and I can feel it! The nature is waking up slowly. Snow is becoming less common. I’ve been thinking about which of the five senses is the first to give me the signal that spring is coming. For me, I think that the sound of birds chirping is the first thing that makes me think “Oh, spring is here.”.

Half a dozen kids and another crew member alongside me went to document the process of collecting syrup from birch trees. The weather was nice and it was the time of the year to start collecting syrup from birches. We were waiting for the bus that’ll take us there in half an hour and we filmed the kids talking about the procedure and their opinions on it. The bus arrived and we rushed to enter it. As soon as we felt like we were safe and everyone is in, the bus started and one of the kids realized that we forgot a backpack at the station. A backpack full of camera gear and other valuables. I was being silent and thought about the possible solutions while the rest yelled at the bus driver to stop the bus so we can pick the backpack up. It was ok to get out because there was another bus coming in 2 minutes. Next one is coming 25mins after that. The bus driver didn’t stop until the next station. We all got out. I was holding the camera attached to the big tripod. Everyone started running back to the first station. So did I. For maybe 4-5 steps. I realized it doesn’t make sense for everyone to run back because the bus is coming here anyways. I can wait. The kids didn’t realize that. They were running after the other crew member who was able to be fast enough to catch the bus on time with the backpack in his hands. They didn’t. It was a silly situation. Me standing there at the second station, other crew member coming with the second bus, and kids tiredly walking back to the second station. They were angry because they were “left” on the sidewalk halfway between the stations where both of us could see them. Highlight of the day, I tell ya! The kids wouldn’t stop talking about it! The rest of the day went normally, we got the needed footage and went home.

At home I was getting angry at the slowness of my 3 year old phone. If I didn’t know any better, I would consider another phone to buy. Luckily I knew why it was getting sluggish. It was cluttered with unnecessary files and apps. Files that are very difficult to locate and eliminate. An easier way is to remove everything and start fresh. Time to format the phone! A dreadful operation because it takes a lot of time (it took me a whole day) to reinstall the operating system, install all the apps I used, take backups of them beforehand, loading the backups in the newly installed apps, adjusting the settings to my needs. A lot of work. There’s also a chance of bricking the phone and making it unusable. It’s slightly risky but still pretty safe if you’re following the procedure written on the internet. After all the things were done, the phone felt like new. Almost. But still running way better than yesterday.

One day the entire school went to the nature centre (pol. Centrum przyrodnicze) for the exhibition and a lecture on the topic of human senses and behaviors. The lecture was very entertaining. I understood a lot of it even though it was in Polish. The kids also liked it. Of course after an hour they all started losing their concentration and became very playful. At that moment we went to check the rest of the exhibition containing some measuring instruments and puzzles. My favorite bit. I discovered that my grip strength is just above the normal range. For my age the normal range is from 37.5 to 57.5 and I got very close to 60. Thank you climbing! There was also a reflex timer.
We would wait for the light to randomly flash at which moment we have to react and press a button. The time difference between the light and the press is our reaction time. I managed to get a reaction of 0.169 seconds and I’m damn proud of it! The place also had some puzzles to solve which inspired me to start implementing some puzzles with the kids at school.

I started writing puzzles on a piece of paper and pin them to the cork board at school. Some word play puzzles, some logical, some mathematical. One example was to continue the sequence. 1, 11, 21, 1211, 111221… Try it out. The kids liked them in the beginning until they got tired of thinking and finding a solution. It was a bit too much for them. The adult crew were loving it much more, some of them became obsessed by some puzzles until they solved it. I decided to lower the intensity of the puzzles and post them once per week.

I’ve also started to do the connect the puzzle pieces together and create an image with them. You know, the classic. I started with the simple ones and I remembered how much I actually liked doing that as a kid. I don’t know why I haven’t done them in years. As I accomplished the smaller ones, I found a box containing 1000 pieces of The Minions. It’s been at least 15 years since I did that one. Challenge accepted. I made the setup and started putting them together on a picture frame for easy transportation. The kids helped along the way. Building the outer frame way easy. As soon as we started filling the middle part it became very difficult and the kids gave up. There was no indication of gratification any time soon. And that’s when I saw there was a lesson there.  The lesson about the Grind. Slowly making small steps building something bigger than anything before. Something more amazing than most of the things that offer instant gratification. It took days to build it and the kids weren’t that interested during the middle of the process. When the puzzle was coming to an end, suddenly it became appealing to them and they flocked to help and finish the whole thing. The last 100-200 pieces were solved in an instant. I’m happy that I did it and I remembered why I haven’t done it in years. It feels amazing to finish it but the time it takes to come to it is the time I would rather put into something from what I can learn and profit in the future. Or just have more fun even during the grind. But still I would like to do that kind of puzzle again in the future.

This month I started grinding another thing I’ve always wanted to be able to do. A front lever. A body position where you hang on a bar with straight arms and raise your flat body horizontally to the ground. It’s bloody hard but building towards it is good for my body and health. I’m training it using the “Grease the groove” method where I would  just do it as much as I can every time I pass the gymnastic ring I have at home. The body gets more used to it every time and grows stronger. It’ll take me months to reach my goal but hey, I’ll get there as long as I don’t give up.

One of the parents at school is a hunter and I’ve asked him if I can join one day to see how it looks like. He told me not to expect anything exciting about it like running through the forest and chasing animals. Luckily I imagined it looking something like fishing. You just sit there for hours and enjoy some peace and quiet in nature. When I told him that he said that yeah, it’s something like that. So we agreed on the day and we went hunting for boars. In the beginning we were scouting the area to see if there’s any activity and indications that the boars will appear there again. The thing is, the boars are destroying farm land because it’s food there. The farmers don’t like that. So in exchange for letting the hunters hunt on their grounds, the hunters have an obligation of keeping the farm grounds safe from any damages the boars make digging. That damage means less money for the farmer. So they made an agreement where the hunters association pay for any damages the wild animals make. The money hunters collect by selling the meat they acquire. Most of the time they have to pay from their pocket because there’s more damage than money they get from selling the meat. But still hunters do it because they can hunt their own meat and know what they eat. That aside, part that amazed me the most is just sitting there in the hunter’s tall wooden building (I don’t know the name of it yet) during the night. When it’s that silent around you, you hear everything that’s happening in the forest. So many eerie sounds. Luckily the hunter explained what made each of that sound. Sometimes it’s foxes, sometimes rabbits running away from the foxes, sometimes it’s a young male row deer. If I didn’t know that I would imagine someone was getting stabbed to death and screaming in pain. Now I understand how legends are starting. Someone hears a scream every night in the forest and comes to the conclusion that there’s a serial killer in the forest. After this hunting trip I’ve learned what those sounds mean and I feel much more confident about going through the woods. One last thing about this hunting trip was all the animals that I saw in the nature. 3 big deers, several row deers (smaller kind), wild boars, even a beaver dam. Something that I’ve never seen in my life. I’m very happy I made the choice to go hunting that day.

I started holding yoga classes! At school! For the first time in my life! The room could fit around 8 people and plenty more applied and said they wanted to join. Because of the space restriction I could only allow the first 8 that applied. One of them was a friend of mine who speaks English fluently and I was happy that I’ll have some help in case I get stuck explaining something in English and they don’t understand. Unfortunately, she didn’t come. Unfortunately, only 2 persons came. I guess that’s what I get when I offer something for free. People just reserve it because it’s free and limited and then afterward decide not to go without any regrets. But who cares about them. I’m holding a yoga class for these 2 lovely persons that came. I’ll do my best to make them glad they chose to come. But wait! Their English is very limited! O_O Holy smokes! What now? At that moment I decided I’ll do it fully in Polish. Scary, I know. I’m in Poland almost half a year. Did I learn enough? Heck yeah! I held that yoga class like a champ! At the end of it my brain was fried. I couldn’t think anymore. I just went home and immediately fell asleep. The two of them liked the class very much. One of them even sent a “thank you” email saying how much she enjoyed it. Very old school and it made me joyful. I was looking forward to the next class. Luckily for the rest of them there was someone who could help me with the translation so it went much easier.

One weekend my climbing gym celebrated their birthday and for that they organized a climbing competition. One of their crew came to my yoga class one time and invited me for the competition. I came there fully geared, fully prepared for climbing. I found out that they separated the club member and people on the “outside”. I was in the latter group. I enjoyed climbing but I never took the time to join the club officially. Whatever. I came to climb and enjoy it. During the announcements I found out there were only 3 guys in the outside group. And neither of the 2 guys had any climbing equipment with them. Oh god, they’re beginners. Here I am, climbing for over a year, came to crush them. I don’t want to be “that guy”. What now? I was thinking of quitting even. But then I remembered that I came there to climb and have fun. So that’s what I’ll do. I decided to take my time slowly and savor it fully. There were 3 routes that we had to climb and for each we were timed. The fastest person on all three routes summed wins! Luckily the routes were easy even for total beginners but each of them had their own quirk. The first one we had to climb using the ice picks that are used for winter alpinism (I never did that). The second one was a speed climbing route (I never did that).  The last one we had to climb the route blindfolded without anyone telling us where to put our hands and feet (I DEFINITELY NEVER DID THAT IN MY LIFE). I was looking forward to the challenges. I did as I planned. Took it easy, enjoy every last second of the routes. The three of us talked a lot during the process. Cool guys. One of them was Ukrainian which made this “competition” an international one! Unrelated but very cool, the guy’s name is Platon. As Platon and I were chatting after finishing our challenges the organizers calculated the times and started announcing the winners (I mean, we were all winners cause there was no 4th person). 3rd place went to the Polish guy. Obviously. They announced the second place. Jaaassmiiiiiiin Zukić! What? Platon was faster? Wow! that’s amazing. I Immediately turned to him to cheer for him and congratulate him. I was purely happy for him! Because of his win he told me this sport might be for him and that he might start climbing for real and train for it. I was very happy to hear that. It was much more precious than winning first place.

At the end of the month I started preparing for my trip back to Croatia. After 6 months of living here. I was excited and I’ll tell you all about it in April’s installment!

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