Sunset on Twin Oaks Farm

Sunset on Twin Oaks Farm
Tucking the baby chicks in to their coops for the night. Actually, the coop on the left is currently empty, but in just a few days a new generation of baby chicks will arrive and set up shop.

I first arrived at Twin Oaks Farm three years ago, on an evening long after the sun had set. I checked my directions for the dozenth time and confirmed that they did indeed say to turn off the well lit highway when I saw the pitch black playground, down the unpaved gravel road lined on each side by trees, and onto the first driveway on the right. “It’s a long driveway, so you won’t be able to see the house from the road,” the directions warned. As I flicked on my brights and turned down the unpaved street, my travel buddy and friend, Alison, showed the same raised-eye-brows skepticism I felt. This was beginning to feel like the plot of a horror movie: naive college girls want to play farmer and are never heard from again. Continue reading “Sunset on Twin Oaks Farm”

A Dog for the Night

A vizsla puppy dropped by for the night.

Újhold
Puppy slumber party

Meet Újhold, the Hungarian Vizsla that became our temporary roommate for the night. Our friend Franky found her wandering unattended in the Penny Market parking lot. He is a sucker for all dogs, but especially Vizslas since he has a very loved and sorely missed Vizsla of his own back in the United States. It’s little surprise then, that everything she did reminded Frankie of his own dog, Luna. He even christened her Újhold, a possibly rough Hungarian translation of New Moon. He couldn’t leave the parking lot without knowing she had a place to sleep, which turned out to be the foot of our bed, since Frankie’s not allowed dogs in his building. I’m not the hugest fan of dogs, though I have to admit, she was a perfectly polite guest. The real question is, does anyone know her owner?

Gyeongbok Palace: A worthwhile stop

Kayagum players
The sound of the Kayagum, a traditional stringed Korean instrument apparently invented 1,400 years ago, played at Gyeongbokgung Palace. They were part of a large group reenacting a ceremony for court elders.

Home Again

Having recently returned to the land of parking lots and fast food, bread and cheese, and friends and family, I find myself in the United States with an an abundance of both sentimentality for all things Korean and newfound time. This blend lends itself perfectly to reminiscence about the last few month’s with the time to write about it. Continue reading “Gyeongbok Palace: A worthwhile stop”

Boseong’s Green Tea Plantations

Bamboo Fences
The green tea leaves of the Camelliea sinensis plant peak through bamboo fences, the bush that gives the world oolong tea, black tea, and of course, green tea.

Traveling from place to place, I often marvel at the luckiness of creatures who call some of the best places the world has to offer their humble homes. A mere human couldn’t scrounge up enough of anything to land themselves the right to set up shop in Spain’s Alhambra. Yet a number of pigeons air their morning coos  over the Sierra Nevada Mountains everyday, nestled among the bright mosaics of that ancient palace. And just imagine the view those plump marmots enjoy each morning, hunkered down like carpet across the alpine terrain of the Rocky Mountain’s higher elevations. Continue reading “Boseong’s Green Tea Plantations”

Biking among the cherry blossoms

Gyeongju's tree-lined streets
After a record-setting winter proved just how cold the month of April can be in Korea, there’s nothing better than seeing a tree, or a street brimming with them, blooming with the signs of spring. If a passerby wasn’t approaching a walk on this street with enough grandeur, the speakers blaring melodramatic classical music were sure to push anyone in that direction.

The timing of our trip to Gyeongju couldn’t have been better. We left on the tail end of the first week of April and a cycling challenge I am participating in called 30 Days of Biking. It was also smack in the middle of cherry blossom season. Continue reading “Biking among the cherry blossoms”

Dispatch from the Classroom: First Grade

Don’t Pick the Flowers

“Don’t pick flowers,” was the immediate response when my first grade students were asked recently to imagine that our class had been whisked away from our room in Ilsan, South Korea and plopped down on an isolated island with the challenge of governing ourselves. “Don’t pick flowers,” was among the first must-have laws. Our white board was soon overflowing with edicts like, “Don’t catch whales or animals, except cows,” “Pick a president, then be nice to them,” and “Love the nature.” How simple it is to bring law and order to a society. Others included:

  • Don’t pollute nature or the sea.
  • Stay away from strangers.
  • Don’t go to dangerous places.
  • Don’t go too far from the group.
  • Don’t say bad words.
  • Don’t kill animals. Eat rice, fruit, or vegetables.
  • Eat what is good for your body.
  • Behave.
  • Always be happy and work hard for the country.
  • Always try your best.
  • Stick together.
  • Don’t use too much water.
  • Every child should go to school for free.
  • Be nice to others.
  • Don’t go to the deep sea. Continue reading “Dispatch from the Classroom: First Grade”

Snow Day in Ilsan

It was a sunny and snowy day in Ilsan on Monday.

After a week spent in the crunchy snow and shiver-inducing temperatures of the Midwest, my winter boots got plenty of use. When it came to packing them for my trip back to Goyang, South Korea, I nearly left them behind, thinking of the snowless streets I had left behind only days earlier. Over-packer that I am, I jammed them in my suitcase just to be safe, and by Monday, I was glad to have them. Christmas day brought a light dusting of snow, leaving about 2 inches of packed powder to derail my rolling suitcase on the sidewalks, but little more than that. As I woke up, jet-lagged and groggy, on Monday, I looked out the window and thought, “Is it snowing?” And snowing it was. A lot. And the flakes didn’t just make an appearance in the morning, but consistently fell in a white flurry all throughout the day. Continue reading “Snow Day in Ilsan”