Well, the snow is starting to melt and the air smells like spring… That’s how Kate’s email began this morning (yesterday afternoon New York time). I was at once overcome with envy and nostalgia for that revivifying time when you feel the change in the air like the scent of hope and you know you’ve made it through the harshest of seasons. Pretty soon the first bulbs will be pushing through the melt-sodden earth. Here in Brisbane the harshest season is Summer, and we’re not through it yet; it seems to have saved its heaviest artillery for one bloody last stand. I don’t know if it’s age, my general malaise, or if all those southern summers I missed while living overseas made me soft, but I’ve really struggled with this latest one. Over in Upstate New York, of course, it’s been, by all accounts, an even harsher Winter than the one I lived through in 2014. That was the most consistently cold I’ve ever been, but it wasn’t just the temperatures, it was the grey, the gloom, the oppressive monotony of the …
A few weeks ago I got up early one morning, turned on my GPS, stuck it in my pocket, and went about my business. When I slumped back indoors sometime after dusk, barely able to stand upright, I had done exactly seven miles of business — all of them in the yard here.
What the hell is my weather app playing at? was my thought as I left home a couple of hours ago for my five-mile walk downtown. “Sunshine and cloud mixed” and 6C or so were to be my rewards for surviving till the first full day of (official) Spring; the reality was swirling snowflakes, a cold breeze and only two fleeting appearances by an ever-submissive sun.
On Thursday he was uncharacteristically buoyant as he walked to school. The sun and birds and flowers and coffee were doing what they’re supposed to in early Spring. He texted his girlfriend in America and declared his love for her, the planet, its coffee, its blooms. He got to school early, ready to prep. He was characteristically un-prepped.
#701 I went to Japan for the first time in January 2000. The cheapest flight came with a stopover in Seoul. My one memory of Korea from that trip, apart from thinking it had a pretty nice airport, is the sight, from thousands of metres above, of hundreds of white apartment blocks jammed between the endless mountains.
I’ve been doing private lessons with three nice people — they use the names Sally, Rachael and Victor — on weekends for a few weeks now. Their English is excellent and though we start with an article from the Economist (their choice!) we inevitably veer off into a chat before too long. Last weekend I mentioned my recent frolics among the spring blooms and Sally said that a high school in downtown Gimhae was famed for its meihua — the Chinese plum/Japanese apricot trees I described in the last post — display, and that a festival of sorts was held there each Spring. And thus my Saturday afternoon plans were set.