Cherry Blossom Season & A Rainy Election Day

It’s cherry blossom (벚꽃) season in South Korea and in Busan the pink and white blooms line many of the streets and boulevards of this sprawling metropolis.

Today is election day, which is a national holdiay in the ROK, so the free Wednesday was anticipated as a golden opportunity to get outside and take in the cherry blossoms at the height of their splendour. Unfortunately, Tuesday night brought with it large gray clouds and plenty of rain that has continued into the morning.

If you read my last post온천천-returning-to-nature/ , you’ll know I have an odd attachment to the rivers/streams that I run next to, and my running path in Yangsan is no different. Lately the stream has been depressingly dry, and the opportunity to see it running with water compelled me to get a nice jog in despite the rain. As I ran, my gaze was for the most part on the stream, with its various waterfowl, as well as on the poor high school students who were (perhaps not so) inexplicably heading to school on a national holiday in full uniform. There were also cherry blossoms on the side of the path, but after seeing row after row of the pink blossoms, one almost inevitably gets callous to their beauty.

However, when I reached my halfway turning point, I stopped to stretch and in doing so, I happened to raise my eyes to the mountains on the far side of the stream.

The mystic world of “Asia” that lives in the Western imagination (fog-shrouded mountains, lone monks on rocky outcrops, graceful, yet vaguely skeletal evergreens) rarely is encountered in the reality of living in the Far East. Yet there was exactly such a scene before me. Fog hung in layers in the valleys of the ridgeline, rocks stood out here and there in harmonious arrangements, and what’s important here, splashes of striking bright pink projected from the dark green of the wooded mountainside. Here, it seemed to me, was the way cherry blossoms were meant to be seen. Not artificially arranged in straight, orderly lines, but dotted randomly in a dark green sea, so that there presence was something of an unlikely miracle. I didn’t have a camera, so I couldn’t take a picture, but I doubt the image would’ve captured the reality anyway.

I’ve only seen that picturesque “Asia” of traditional painting on a handful of occasions, but each time it awakes me to the tremendous and unique beauty of nature in this part of the world. Today, I’m happy to say that I saw the cherry blossom as I like to imagine it was meant to be seen.


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