In the southern hemisphere it may be spring, in the north fall. And when I’m traveling south, the October sun pulls me into a run — to keep pace with the fresh sprouts, glowing with what might be a platitude of greens if the green were not so flush and true.
In the north I run to follow the sun as it fades the rice to limoncello, through khaki grass, to revel and rue the red-yellow-and-orange that lies beneath the retreating chlorophyll.
Whatever the hemisphere, this seems a time when those who are home are simply living — planting or harvesting, studying and working. My timing of when I go helps determine the day-to-day I find in where it is I’ve gone to. In many of the swarmed placees, October is not the tourists’ month — so by default I am less the tourist, more a passerby, a traveler, a sojourner.
Where I am this October is the Republic of Korea, known to most as South Korea.
This is my first morning, waking from jet-lagged night into sunrise and fog from the seventh-floor house-apartment of an American friend married to a Korean woman. She a professor of communication, he a teacher of English (whom I first met, in the US, when he was a professor of physics and I a professor of journalism and writing).
October is also a month of studying and teaching and they are off to university and I am at the house, where the smart wall is speaking to me in Korean. I don’t understand her words so I interprete: “Time now to go for a run.”
So I ran along a reclaimed pond to a channelled river, followed levees and turned onto the gravel roads into the rice fields and beyond where the fields turned to forest. When a few too many farm dogs began to bark ahead of me, I interepreted their message as telling me “Time now to turn around.”
I listened to the barking and nodded to the farmers, older men and women tending their small lots and gardens. I was not from here and some neither looked at me or away but most nodded as if I were here since I was in fact here, a sojourner among the rice and the farmers.