Animals, Korea, Urban Walking
Comments 4

Dragonfly Dawn

Hi, all. Well, as threatened promised, I’m adopting a take-no-prisoners approach with the blogging now, in a desperate and probably futile attempt at publishing most of the un-posted material from my two years in Korea before I jump on that plane. 

Starting…er, two posts ago, the goal is a post every two days till I’m outta here. I like a challenge. In case you don’t, I’ll try to keep the word count down. Then, once I’m safely on southern soil, we can all take a breather. For a while.

*          *          *          *          *

Yulha, June. Before dawn one Sunday, a week before my birthday:

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Big Ass Mountain before dawn

In those days I used to spend part of most weekends prowling the verges and farm roads criss-crossing the valley floor in the shadow of Big Ass Mountain and her sister peaks Mt Perky and Mt Pert*. I’d overdosed on mountains and hills, and landforms in between, and had learned to get my kicks trawling through the fringes in the lowlands.

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Awaiting the Dawn

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Slow down, buddy. This ain’t a freeway.

That was Summer, so I’d have to get up ridiculously early to make the 45-minute journey to the paddies in time for sun-up. It was always worth it. Sometimes I’d start slowly, not fully awake (no real coffee till my bakery opened at 7:00, and that was a couple of miles away), a bit cranky and bored. Then I’d spy something cool, usually an insect, and things would fall into place.

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Household junk worn out or broken? Chuck it in the rice paddy.

I’d spend a couple of hours there, circling the paddies, going back and forth through the middle; have breakfast sitting on a muddy roadside once the sunrise drama was over; talk to Kate on the phone. I was strangely content. No wonder I kept going back.

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Eventually I made myself sick of that excursion as well, and swore off it for a while, especially after the harvest when the rice paddies were brown and bare, the straw laid out in rows or neatly bundled in giant cylinders of white plastic. With harvest over, most of the colour in the verges and the insects that thrived there moved on. So did I.

But lately I’ve been going back. Even those bare paddies and surreal rows of giant bales have their attractions.

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There was a weird misty light quality that morning — maybe smog from Busan (beyond the mtn)?

Anyway, here are some shots from that one Summer morning — one of a dozen or more. Every walk has its own character. This one was Dragonfly Dawn:

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Our dawn rituals completed, we no longer had the paddies to ourselves. A walker or two arrived…

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..and a farmer turned up, suitably armed, to resume hostilities in the War on Pests:

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Yulha, with much-hiked Bulmo-San to its rear:

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I’ve seen some absolutely enormous bullfrogs luxuriating in these paddy ditches — but they never let me get close enough for a shot. I’ve also spied a super-wary roe deer bounding across the paddies at dusk, and one morning a flash of fur and then a splash as a mustelid (weasel family member) of some type darted past and into the ditch.

This morning the prizes were less flashy but more amenable to a picture:

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Highway/theme park construction in the distance

I was surprised that the dragonflies got active so early. One type that hangs out in the marshy area near the road (first three pictures, above) is always temperamental, but they were a bit less flighty that morning. The others are usually more cooperative, but with my lens, I’m restricted mostly to shots of stationary specimens resting — or waiting for their next kill — on twigs or stalks.

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You can easily fill an absorbing hour or two stalking dragons.

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I decided long ago — one everlasting gift from Korea — that the dragonfly is my favourite animal. I’m sure I’ve spent far more time chasing these always-intriguing creatures — even communicating with them, after a fashion (see an upcoming post) — than doing any other leisure activity in Korea with the exception of photo editing.

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You can expect a few more dragonflies zooming through TGTW as I continue excavating the archives…

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* Not their real names!

~ And that’s all the Goat wrote

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4 Comments

  1. Mmm… I love the shot of BAM at dawn. Nothing beats a bit of water to make a low-light shot look nice! I really really wish I was a morning person, who can get out there and snag the dawn glow. I’m too much of a night bloke though! Is that a Korean thing or have you always been up mega-early? Come to think of it, you’ve got a few early morning posts tucked away on your blog from other places as well!

    I’m kind of sad to see the end of your Korean adventure/hell. A new world awaits though and I’ll be keeping a close eye on how you spend your time in new surroundings! Yeah okay, that sounds kinda stalkerish, but you know what I mean 🙂

    • Oh yeah, always been a morning bloke. I’m the guy who’s nodding off at the party after his third beer — because I’ve been up since 4:30 or something…

      Can’t wait for some new photo/walking terrain — and it’ll be great to stomp around my old home stomping grounds again in a couple of weeks with a bit more camera skill than I had two years ago.

  2. The dragonflies are amazing there! You will miss them. Another fine Goat post. Great to be catching up with them.

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