Last week I walked home from Hell Skool the long way, away from the cars and greasy chopsticks of the main drag and “inland”, via the quiet paddies and the bank of the trickling Daecheongcheon. Hadn’t done it in a month or so — it was dusk this time, with the days shrinking, and the air crisp and wintery.
All the rice has been harvested, and the crop waste neatly bundled and arranged on the flat squares of the paddies like pieces in a giant board game.
I realised I didn’t have much time left to enjoy the fields in official Autumn, so on Sunday I went for an afternoon ramble after the now-standard morning sweating over vocal tracks for my little outfit’s latest recording.
Well, it started with brunch (we’re very cosmopolitan here in buzzing south-eastern Korea) at my current favourite on the Yulha Creek coffee strip boho trail (contents: one boho) that I mentioned on my last post:
I had a splendid window spot in full sun, the syrup was real maple; it was hard to leave. When I did, I perambulated at a leisurely pace towards the same ridge I climbed last weekend, but this time attempting a new route up its autumn-dappled hide. No luck. I was stymied by the infernal earth-movers I ranted about last time, couldn’t find a way across the angry scar where the new road is going in.
Oh, well. I was in a strangely peaceful mood on Sunday, and just rambled on in a dreamy don’tgiveashit state I couldn’t quite explain. The blue skies, the coffee, the Sonic Youth spree I was enjoying on my phone? Dunno, but I’m usually far more frenetic after a good breakfast.
Anyway, I found myself back in this little backwater rice plain behind Yulha, and followed this couple as they located a rough track down from the road:
An old man sitting in the sun watched me walk past his shack (on the left in the photo above), admiring his cabbages; his wife pottered among the vegetables.
The last time I walked here there was a typhoon approaching — one day I might post those shots. A totally different scene today. I was one of the few people to be seen among the fields, with the harvest all done and the hard work over.
I enjoyed this flock of what are sometimes called magpies making a ruckus in this old tree — there must be birds called magpies all over the place. The Australian ones are the guys that like to pluck eyes from walkers and cyclists each September. These ones are big and plump and are the most prevalent bird in the country. Apparently they’re considered a subspecies of the European version, Pica sericea, and are called ggachee (까치) here:
It really was good to be alive and free. I sleepwalked up into this shabby hamlet, a couple of locals giving me the eye, and tried without success to breach those road defences again. I could have done it, but was in jeans and weekend-hipster threads, and anyway I was too deep in daydreams to care.
It’s really a thankless task being the only hipster in a 10-mile radius, but old habits die hard.
You’ll remember the “overnight suburb” they’re erecting near here, the one that took me surprise as I came down the side of Dead Man’s Peak. Well, here it is from a different perspective, part of that little mountain visible on the right:
Rice waste laid out quite decoratively on the muddy valley floor:
Everywhere a beautiful golden brown:
One day I’ll explore that end of the ridge:
With the sun just about submerged behind ridge and tower blocks, I started back towards the creek.
I’m hoping I get a few more weekends like this to enjoy before Big Daddy Winter lumbers in, most of the gold leaches out of the fields and hills and we’re just left with the brown.
Meanwhile, after all that gruelling exertion, it was surely time for a revivifying coffee. Back I went, past the embryonic concrete giants leaning over the creek…
..to the coffee strip, this time a place called Mama’s Bean or something similar.
The beans were decent but Mama didn’t quite get them hot enough. Anyway, that’s another coffee joint checked off my list — at least 20 to go — and it got me home, this time at rather a faster clip as dusk settled over the valley and chilled me out of my daydreaminess. A great end to the week.
* * * * *
I couldn’t decide between these two gems, so here’s both of ’em. Never seen the Sonic Youth clip before, but it’s suitably beautiful, mesmerising and just a little unsettling — like so many of their tunes:
~ And that’s all the Goat wrote