Winter Fun

12 Dec

Well, it seems winter has come to Paju.  And I have to say, I find myself greeting it with a bit of child-like enthusiasm.  For the most part, I am prepared for the winter.  I have warm clothes.  My refrigerator and freezer and filled with food.  I have delicious herbal teas, some good movies, a book or two, and a strange life living and working at English Village that is (mostly) easily sustained even in the midst of the winter snow and cold.  As I, and all foreign teachers, live right here on the English Village campus, even with a few inches of snow… it’s an easy commute to work.

Paju is in a strange pocket of weather in South Korea.  With a full spectrum of four seasons, it is known for having a surprising dive into seasonal extremes.  It is unexpectedly hot and humid in the summer (but in truth it ain’t got nothin’ on New Orleans!) and the winters are long…long… and cold.  The winters here are cold even compared to our neighbor just an hour to the South, the grand city of Seoul.  Paju has a biting humidity with a cold winter wind that can chill you to the bones and an exorbitant amount of snow.

So today, with a healthy blanket of snow already on the ground and a fresh batch of snow scattering in the skies, I am staying inside.  I am already well-underway with my winter hibernation activities.  I have been busy cooking healthy, yummy food, practicing yoga and reiki, reading books and watching movies.  I have even broken out the watercolors and started a little light painting.  Winter fun.  What more could a girl ask for?

Alas, this is just the beginning of the winter season.  It is possible my lighthearted winter attitude will fade as winter and the snow drifts grow deeper.  The winters here are extraordinarily long.  Last December when I first arrived here in Paju and South Korea, my first day of life and work was met with a was a terrible ice storm.  I wore my long down coat doing my best to keep my frozen New Orleans body warm, still in shock from the cold weather.  I didn’t take that coat off again until April…. we will see how I and the weather fair this year.

This past weekend I made two very yummy dishes that helped keep me warm, happy and satisfied.  The first was spinach polenta lasagna.  I followed a very simple recipe I found online, modified it a bit to suit my tastes and cupboard, and easily assembled layers of gooey wonderfulness.  What a treat it was.  It tasted delicious and is an easy way to eat Lasagna gluten free!  I also made some carrot soup.  I basically followed a recipe from the foodnetwork.  It is a very easy carrot soup enhanced with fresh chopped onions, garlic and I added some fresh ginger.  It is sautéed in a curry paste and then cooked up with some stock with a hint of cayenne pepper.  About an hour later with a little help from my immersion blender and a dollop of greek yogurt on top, it was a smooth and satisfying winter treat.  Delicious!

I continue to lead a weekly yoga class for interested teachers at English Village.  The winter weather provides a few challenges as we begin our yoga class in the early evening bundled up and huddled up feeling at first unable to move.  We practice in a nice size room with a heater that doesn’t come close to heating the room.  I begin the practice with my wool scarf tied around my neck, in layers and two pairs of wool socks on.  Slowly as we warm up it gets a little bit easier… and in truth I get so interested in the yoga I forget that I am cold.  But it is still cold nonetheless.  At any rate, it is a really nice mid-week diversion particularly as we are coming into the sometimes isolating land of English Village in winter.

I sang Christmas carols with my students this week.  It wasn’t a planned thing.  But in one of my younger classes a few of the girls started singing the carols they knew.  So I jumped on the boat, wrote the words on the board to perhaps help them with their English, and we sang a few songs.  In truth I find I like singing with the students.  I like it perhaps… more than they do…  Lately I have had some fun teaching my youngest students songs from my (and most americans’) childhood.  My repertoire includes the hokey pokey, the itsy-bitsy spider, and of course… “head and shoulders, knees and toes (knees and toes…)”… you know the one.

I suppose Christmas is just around the corner now.  Even though there is a bit of Christmas energy on the EV campus, its easy to forget being here in South Korea.  As best as I can tell, many people in South Korea celebrate Christmas but it’s not the all-encompassing seasonal experience it can be in the States.  I am told that many folks in South Korea simply go out to dinner to celebrate, much like we would on New Years Eve.

Good-bye for now from the newly frozen and snow-covered land of English Village in Paju City South Korea.  Doing my best to keep it simple and stay warm!

2 Responses to “Winter Fun”

  1. Cletus Billesbach 13/12/2013 at 06:03 #

    Hi Nancie: I enjoy your interesting posts hearing about your life in Korea. You can keep the cold and snowy weather. We haven’t had much yet and like it that way. I just got home from a day bus trip with my friends. There were 42 of us on the bus. Went to Nell Hills Shop at Briarcliff Village north KC. Founded in Atchison over 30 years ago, Nell Hills has grown from a single, small-town boutique to an empire of interior design products. Went to Leavenworth, KS Visited historical homes decorated for the season. Had a light lunch in a quaint little house turned restaurant called “Mama Mia’s” . Shopped in pre-civil war buildings in Weston, MO. Our day concluded with a dinner at “Piropos at Briarcliff Village and a dazzling view of KC skyline, visited the Plaza Lights. A fun and long day. Started out at 8:00 a.m. – 8:30 p.m. Take care. Millie


    • nancieteresa 13/12/2013 at 07:42 #

      Wow Millie that sounds great. And also sounds like an exhausting day! Thanks for sharing!

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