Sunday, June 17, 2007

Mosquitoes and a Monday Morning

Nappun mogi! (Bad mosquitoes!)

We are finished our exams, finished our marking, finished our grading, and today begins our vacation- by now into the best part of the Korean summer: pre-rainy season. The trees are in full leaf, the rice crop is up about a foot and richly green, the skies are blue and the sun is hot.

Alas, this is also prime mogi season, and Katherine's rest has been disturbed many nights now by itching welts, usually on her legs. Which, of course, means that Mommy's rest is also disturbed as a sniffling child comes traipsing into the bedroom at two am to get some anti-itch ointment rolled on... We have had our share of bites, but they seem to find her much more delectable, and of course when she scratches she winds up with scabs all over her slim little legs.

I finally in desperation bought a mosquito net - not one of the full-sized ones designed for a Western bed, though those are in much evidence in the stores of late - this looks rather like a rectangular umbrella made of mesh, if you can imagine that. There is of course no handle, but where the ferrule would be on top is a little plastic spike with two inset tabs that let you collapse the thing or lock it into place. The four ribs form interlocking arches and the whole net then is designed to be placed over a sleeping baby's floor mat or mattress. It fits beautifully over her little pallet behind the couch (though if she stretches out she is in danger of slipping a limb or two out the edges) and has already saved us both several nights' rest.

This morning, however, a particularly pesty mogi came reconnoitering around our pillows and woke me with its drone at four in the morning. I could neither eliminate it nor go back to sleep, so finally I got up. Dim pink light was already filtering in the windows, and the pre-dawn air looked so inviting, I threw on some clothing and wandered out.

Four-thirty to five-thirty strolling on a Korean mountainside, as the sun rises over the blue hills in the distance... everything looking crisply new and ready for the day, unsmudged by heat or the wear of others' eyes. The pond opposite the dormitories is dappled with little fish rising to break their fast on the surface insects, the splashes audible between the trills and twitters of birdsong everywhere.

I see and/or hear a whole array of arialists up early: an owl's hooting recedes sleepily into the forest as the cuckoos take over the main theme. Gachi (Korean magpies) interject cheeky solos, flapping back and forth across the landscape in their jaunty black and white. Might those bright yellow birds at the edge of the trees, looking like dandelions on grass, be orioles? There is a lovely burbling of melody from somewhere.... and then a woodpecker cuts in with percussion. I stand very still and spot him drumming his way up a tree only a few yards away. A bat swoops over the pond and is gone. Higher on the mountain, pheasants are chatting in staccato phrases, going about their early-morning affairs.

Myongji is perched on the edge of a circular range, so I can look out across the valley where Yongin lies still mostly asleep below, and to the deep pink just turning to gold beyond the azure peaks of the Korean hills. And there, poised at their edge like a diva in orange satin, is the sun.

I sit for a while as she rises, the birds' orchestra the only accompaniment to her debut. A sense of peace that readies me for the day slowly seeps in along with the sunlight, unshowered and unbreakfasted as I am.

On the way home I compose a song, with the incessant cuckoos' cheerful assistance. The pines sough as the morning breeze picks up, and a few perambulators from Aelfenheim (the seniors' community that looms over our little guesthouse now) are taking the air as well. We exchange greetings with the sly delight of those sharing the uncommon virtue of early rising as our paths cross.

It is not yet seven here, and I've already had a wonderful start to my vacation. Hmmm... perhaps I should thank that Monday morning mosquito...

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Anonymous audrey said...

Good to hear from you again, Judy! How are you feeling?

It's almost vacation time for us too - this is the last week of school for our kids. We will be going camping at the end of July. DO you have any plans for this summer?

Please keep writing as you get a chance. Our love to Bryan and (itchy) Katherine :)

June 18, 2007 at 8:03 a.m.  
Blogger Liese said...

Hey, folks!

We, too, are ending our last full week of school, though they have Monday and a half Tuesday to go yet. Off to the grandparents this week-end, as one of Mike's brothers (and his crew of four kids)is in town. It's going to be pretty crazy for Grandma--she will have three of her sons' families there, each of whom has four kids. Twelve children (ranging in age from 1 to 15 years old) and eight adults. We will need to impress upon her to take it easy!
The older boys are overjoyed, as they love playing (and fighting) with their cousins. Xanthe will be a little reticent at first, then she will join in the fray of non-stop chatter with glee, I'm sure.

Well, lots of packing to do and time's a wasting! Love to you all,

Liese and Co.

June 22, 2007 at 9:54 a.m.  

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