Jikji spring. Yellow bushes line the walks, pink spots on rocks, cherry blossoms have fallen. They are replaced by picnickers on the lovely spring day.
Post morning, A visit to the campus of Gimcheon College provides the sight of a miserable monkey family in a 20 foot jungle-gym cage. Papa's a little aggro, but who can blame him? Next up on the sad sights tour is the Deer Pen. 4 deer lay in the shade of sheds within their 30 foot cage. The trees are sheathed in metal...perhaps to prevent antler sharpening by the raging buck? Who knows. Handstand practice happens near the pond while Myeong Hee ponders the present.
On an afternoon walk through town, I meet 5 new foreigners and am accompanied by another. Gimcheon has recently become home to... 12 new people? Perhaps more. This occurance has changed my outlook for the spring. A positive outlook requires less determination than it has in the past month.
During dinner, I am surprised by arms around my waist and turn to discover an ajuma covering my bared back with an apron. Perhaps a longer shirt would've prevented this, but it was certainly entertaining.
Home to special tea and scrabble. Recalling the sweetness in tiny bites of lilac as a child, I collect some from the bush outside. The flowers change from...well, lilac, to pale gray. The taste is faintly bitter. I add rosemary to create a rather medicinal tasting nightcap.
Walking from home to the station. Riding from the station to the station. Walking from the station to class. This all happens.
Walking from class to the subway. Riding from the stop to the terminal. Riding from the terminal to the temple. This also happens.
Walking from the bus stop to temple site. Hearing massive chanting. Seeing chains of lotus lanterns. Walking 108 steps up. Seeing masses of people walking a maze while carrying replicas of the woodblocks housed at Haeinsa on their heads. This happens.
Wandering. Being invited into line. Having my arm taken by a woman whose mastery of English rivals my mastery of Korean. Walking past the Tripitaka Koreana. Peeking through slatted windows large enough to call walls. Accepting a plastic replica of a woodblock from youthful monks. Supressing a laugh as monks supress looks of surprise. This all happens.
Walking the maze single file. Completing and exiting the maze. Being guided to the temple cafeteria. Walking arm in arm to the parking lot. Getting in the couple's car, which happens to be a taxi. Riding in the taxi from temple to town. Subway to station. Station to station. This finally happens.
Finally back in Gimcheon 14 hours later, I meet up with a woman who has recently arrived. The night is filled with cathartic chatting first at one Hof with brick pattern wallpaper, then at another with walls that could've passed for a High School locker door.