’tis almost the season to be jolly again: Advent starting tomorrow and nearly two months since my last posting (ahem). Maybe time passes faster when living this close to the sunrise. More likely I need to pay better attention to the frequency of my writing – I had better try to write at least once again before New Years’ Eve…!
What of note since last I wrote? My mother-in-law’s visit was a very successful fortnight. Evenings of the six weeks that followed were mostly spent in band practice preparing for a gig we played a couple of weekends ago, again a success. The gig was also the last night of an impromptu week that my brother shared with us and it was lovely to see him.
Work remains the constant throughout and nine months into my time here, I am still far from feeling that the next morning will be ‘just an other day.’ Just in case the complexities of building our one 77,000 tonne vessel are not enough to occupy the mind, doing so in a place where numerous similar-sized craft are going from drawing board to sailing on a regular basis remains a remarkable experience. One has to admire the industrious people of this island and not just those in the shipyards.
Compared to England, Korea still has four very distinct seasons. Chuseok took place at the time when autumn visibly came, the leaves started to turn and the crops were gathered. For a couple of weeks during that period, the roadsides were frequently covered in tarpaulins of rice as paddy fields were cut to stubble using sickles or occasionally small harvesting machines. This was not just a rural idyll either: I passed some road-works on a dual carriageway one afternoon and saw rice spread out in a coned-off area in the middle of the traffic.
The local fishermen also follow the changes. At a subtle level this can be seen in the restaurants with their fish tanks outside where one or two different species of fish now can be seen on offer. More obviously, we saw nets of whitebait being laid out to dry on the Hakdong pebble beach one evening, similar to the spreading of the rice. What stopped the surrounding seagulls from diving in and helping themselves, I could not explain. Perhaps they are better behaved here than their English cousins.
Autumn is now definitely winter. Deciduous trees that wore red and gold are now bare; huddling for cover amongst the evergreens. Similar gaps can be in the shipyard as global downturn in the industry makes its mark. Work continues at a pace regardless.