Jong Ook Sunim, Community Secretary.
After yesterday’s rain, an absolutely beautiful, bright day.
The only thing potentially marring this day is the fact that our outhouse, yes, one of those old-fashioned pit-in-the-ground kind of outhouses, is scheduled to be cleared today. All that nightsoil shifted by a huge mobile vacuum-and-septic tank operation to the fields. (The temple will stink worst today, and less so but not “not at all” for about ten days or so.) I was thinking of doing a mountain of laundry, my own and some sisters’, today, to take advantage of all that sun to line-dry clothing, until I realized sun or no sun, anything hung out on the line today will come off stinking and reeking.
But still, a beautiful morning, and the nightsoil-removal operation isn’t scheduled to begin until later, so the three “Office Nuns” (fourth-years holding the positions of Community Accountant, Secretary, and General Manager) and I went out for a walk. The rain yesterday had brought down most of the cherry blossoms, but a pink umbra still hangs around the trees that looks lovely in the morning light.
My first walk in the park behind our temple in nearly a year. Last vacation we had–at the end of the summer–I distinctly recall lamenting not having the time for a walk through the park. I was about to finish this vacation with the same lament, and have narrowly avoided it.
There was a time when what was behind the temple wasn’t a park, but simply a single long, wooded, and largely uninhabited crest of land (we glorify it to a series of mountains and “peaks” when we talk about what barely qualifies as a couple of hills where I’m from). In front of our temple, which at that time wasn’t the modern, Korean-style building we have now, but a Japanese-style complex, grass and trees also stretched down to the street below us. Now the crest has been officially turned into a park, complete with sculpture gardens, paved paths, and a few motley concessions stands; and in front of our temple the street runs right up to and then through the front gate. The old, occupation-era Japanese buildings are gone, for the most part.
At the top of the park stairs, there’s a great view of the West Sea and the estuary of the Geum River, even the though the view is admittedly an industrial one. Both the stretch down the coast on the North Jeolla side of the river and up it on the South Chung-jeong side are dizzy with smoke and steam coming from various factories, plants, and in the case of North Jeolla, the international harbor just south of the city. But, as one of my sisters at school, an art major and the former site administrator (read: design and content director) for our school’s homepage, landscapes are a weakness for me. Sure enough, despite my best shot a few times over, nothing compelling. Ah, well, who goes to parks to look at industriascapes anyway?