You know, to keep me zen and centered when, come January, in the bitter chill of winter, I'll be forlorn and depressed staring at my ashy, ghost white legs, wondering if I'm using the wrong moisturizer because one's legs surely shouldn't ever be this dry, no matter how cold temps drop outside?
It wasn't until my twenties that I began to notice the pretty of autumn. Up until then, fall held little value other than signaling the first term of school and field hockey practice. The physical metamorphosis happening outside was more of an annoyance, what with all the lawn work that came with the season. Do you know how annoying it is to locate a field hockey ball that rolls into a patch of leaves caught on the fence lining the sideline? High school problems: they are serious.
My mother's parents, my maternal grandparents, came to visit the States exactly once. My mother grew up on a farm a couple hours outside of Seoul. Knowing this, I did not, for the life of me, understand why my grandfather flew such a long distance and, as a man of few words, when asked what he wanted to do, said that he wanted to go for a walk.
I had absolutely no interest in strolling outside to admire the scenery. I mean, the trees? Aren't there trees in Korea? Branches and leaves? Grass? Yawn, dude. Yawn.
Oh, the simple minds of ignorant pre-adolescent know-it-alls.
Now, every year around this time, I look up at the vibrant firetops of the trees, how they perfectly blot themselves in front of the city skyline and think, oh, I bet weh-halabuhji (Korean for maternal grandfather) would have loved this. He would have adored a November walk on the East coast. There's nothing quite like it.
My grandparents' visit was a long one, overlapping a chilly March when there was a freak snow and ice storm that closed Philadelphia schools for a full week. That was the second and last time that I would spend time with my grandfather. I've visited his grave once, more than a decade ago. He's buried at the highest point of a mountain, one that is so steep that the only way to descend is to side step with your feet perpendicular to the slope of the mountain. I bet at this time of year, he enjoys a sweet, breathtaking view.