Bukchon Hanok Village

“I am alive, and drunk on sunlight.”
― George R.R. Martin

I grew up in a three-season climate. The temperature change over the seasons wasn’t dramatic and I rarely noticed any deviance from the standard range. Back then, when nature wasn’t toyed with, the sea controlled the steady state through the year and I never found a need to adapt to any given season. There would be hot summers and spells of heavy rain, but the temperature would always hover around the mean. That’s before global warming and rapid construction messed everything. However, I took for granted the sun and the light it brought along. I also underestimated my own dependance on the sun.

Seoul City View from Naksan

“My old grandmother always used to say, Summer friends will melt away like summer snows, but winter friends are friends forever.”
― George R.R. Martin

When we moved to Seoul, two years back, the cherry blossom trees were pregnant with new buds. Spring would ultimately pave the way for a torrid summer. I had heard horror stories about winter and chilly temperatures. During our first winter, I didn’t expect to adapt quickly to negative temperatures. They were off the steady state that I preferred. But the human body is pretty malleable and adapts when you subject it to the extreme — in small doses. I was doing better than my counterparts who were visiting from four-season climates. Strangely, I was the only one asked if I was cold?

Heunginjimun Gate

“What breaks in daybreak? Is it the night? Is it the sun, cracked in two by the horizon like an egg, spilling out light?”
― Margaret Atwood

Honestly, it wasn’t the cold that got to me. You can always layer up and wear the thickest jacket and hold a hand warmer. But how can you pull out the sun from hiding? How can you tear the clouds apart and let sunlight bathe the sky? How can you keep your morale high when the gloom shows no sign of receding?

Along the River Han

“When pain brings you down, don’t be silly, don’t close your eyes and cry, you just might be in the best position to see the sun shine.”
― Alanis Morissette

This winter was awful. January was bitterly cold. Fortunately, the sun came out more often. By February, we all started feeling the residual effects of a receding winter. We wanted it to be over and done with. The sun was playing games with us again and I didn’t realise how glum I was feeling without the light.

Bukchon Hanok Village

“Smile my boy, it’s sunrise”
― Robin McLaurin Williams

It’s spring now and the cherry blossom trees are pregnant again. Some of them have already given birth to pink and white flowers. In a week’s time, for roughly a week only, fairy dust will descend on Seoul. Birds have started hitting the high notes, only to be outdone by squealing kids who were trapped all winter. Spring also marks the return of grey skies with an occasional shower. But this time, I have those pretty pink and white flowers to take my mind away from the sun’s continual game of hide-and-seek. I’m going to rise up and revel in the colour fest that will soon follow.



Posted by:twobrownfeet

Writer-Photographer Duo. Now in Seoul.

26 replies on “Rise Up

  1. It sounds like you did adapt well to the cold winters only 2 years after being in Seoul. Maybe you chose your clothing very well and your home is insulated well from the cold. Here Melbourne’s winters are not that cold and at night it usually goes down to 4-5’C and in the day 15CC’ and in the metropolitan areas there is no snow. But even after a decade living here I still can’t get used to the cold lol. At work in the office I have to layer up like mad during winter and people in the office are amazed at how many layers I put on.

    Hoping more warm weather and sunshine comes your way. The sun can indeed make a big difference. I think a lot of us like being touched by light and positivity, so when the sun comes out we are all a little happier 🙂

    1. How have you been? It’s so good to hear from you.
      I used to be someone who couldn’t bear the cold. I guess travel taught me a a lot. When we did the 2-day trip in the high altitude passes in the Himalayas, I learned how important it was to acclimatise. Its pretty much the same for winter here. I spend longer periods outside and make sure I am properly covered. This winter, the temperature dipped to -26C (real feel). 🙂 That was amazingly cold.
      I’m hoping for more sunshine and hope the rains pass quickly. Can’t ya how hot this summer will get. Weather patterns are turning to be crazy.
      Must be getting colder in Melbourne! Stay warm my friend. xo

      1. I have been busy! Was wondering about you the other day and haven’t seen your blog in a while 🙂 Acclimitasing is different for each person and usually is dependent on their fitness level. Sounds like you know what works for you. Brace yourself for summer 🙂 I would love another round of summer lol.

      2. Aww! That’s so sweet. We’ve been busy too. The next few months will be a little chaotic with apartment hunting. No more travel till then I guess. 🙂 No signs of summer yet. Temps are refusing to rise. lol

      3. Good luck with the apartment hunting and the next few months. You can take some time out to plan you and Basil’s next adventures 😀

  2. I love it. You have me excited for those blossoms to burst forth and transform Seoul (and other parts of Asia) into fairy lands. Though I will not be anywhere near cherry blooms, I’m reveling in my own little corner of suddenly bursting buds.

    1. The past week has been a magical escape for me. Cherry blossoms are bursting all over the place! I know I will be sad when its over. 😦 Hope you’re enjoying your time with those bursting buds. xo

  3. I’m certainly enjoying the longer days with more sunshine. I found this winter very difficult to get through as it had been many years since I spent an entire winter here. The really long days of Summer will improve your mood.

    1. We’re also having longer days. But spring rains turn the sky grey and gloomy. 😦 The air quality also dips because of the winds carrying pollutants. Summer is around the corner and I can’t wait for to explore the outdoors. 🙂

  4. Coming from the State of Oregon in the USA (and spending a lot of time in Seattle, Washington), I can definitely get where you are coming from. “How can you tear the clouds apart and let sunlight bathe the sky? How can you keep your morale high when the gloom shows no sign of receding?” ~ I have to smile at those thoughts… You do a wonderful job bringing the photos to life with your words – great post. Sunshine today, and it will last at least a week so I am happy 🙂

    1. Thanks, Randall! 🙂 Your comment made my day. We’re having some sunshine before the next spell of spring rain. The blossoms have taken over the city and I’ve been discovering new places to see them. Glad you’re having a bit of the sun yourself! Have a great week ahead! Always good to hear from you. Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

  5. Like you, I am affected by a lack of sun, and for many years I suffered through long, cold winters. I can tell you the body adapts back the other way, too; now I can’t bear the cold and gray at all and am the biggest wimp ever. Beautiful imagery in your words, and the sparkly glint of sun is just perfect in each photo!

    1. You get me! 🙂 I had 2 temporary escapes this winter. But it didn’t get better when I got back. The climate is so strange this spring. It was really warm about 2 weeks back and now it’s windy and cold. The skies are blue when its not raining or cloudy. Thankfully, the blossoms are fantastic and make me forget everything else. 🙂

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