Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Season of Seasons

One of the classrooms that I teach in is located on the corner on the fourth floor of a relatively new concrete and granite building in a relatively new concrete and granite portion of Techno Valley in Daejeon. Two of the walls are lined with tall windows and if I raise the shades to the top then I am provided with a sprawling view of the adjacent buildings and a pedestrian corridor which heads to the north for about 300 yards until the strip is halted by a major street.

The north side of the street is fronted by a row of shops and restaurants, one of which my brother and I have stopped going to due to their rather transparent dislike of foreigners. Behind that strip are tall 15-story apartment buildings. The whole vista is rather impresive in the way that it maintains a human scale before being halted in the distance by the broken wall of the apartments.

As the day rolls on from afternoon through the evening and into the night I am privy to watching this small portion of Daejeon change in color from the striking yellows and reds of the trees below, to the flash and sparkle of the neon Korean night.

Below our floor is a music hagwan where children will go to practice their various instruments. Often my classes are treated to the moaning and squeaking of a beginner clarinet, or the fumbling mishmash of a intermediate pianist, which prompts the closing of windows and the misery thereafter of a muggy classroom. But every now and then we will be gifted by a young Rachmaninoff and the room is transformed from a place of diligent learning into something more content, relaxed, and natural.

There are many times when I'd like to go home. Back to the familiarity of the language and food and friends. Back to the places I know, where I am at comfort. But on these days when Autumn is in full bloom and Beethoven is high in the air I doubt I would move for anything short of eviction.

October is my favorite month, but in this month, in this country I have rediscovered my love of the fall. I missed the seasons in Phoenix. There is only one season there and one would not be caught outside during most of it. Trapped inside to languish in boredom for fear of the heat and dust.

October is when hockey starts and baseball ends, leaves turn and fall, and if you are in a place where the snow has held, the most beautiful of months. The sound of skates swooshing and scraping on ice, the slip and crunch of leaves underfoot, the smell of good food hanging in the air to be carried away by an occasional breeze. October is a month for all senses, even the sixth one which notices how time slows in the fall.

October, at least for me, is always a month of frustration and anguish as hockey goes. It takes time for an old dog to get up, and the hockey we see in October is rarely the hockey we see in April. Younger players champ at the bit and sprint, while older players ease into the season and let the kids fly by. It is always about this time every year that my impatience with the season reaches its peak, as what we are seeing now is an illusion.

After their win against Calgary yesterday there is some reason to believe that the Avalanche could be a great team. But then I look at Craig Anderson's astronomical .940 save percentage and I realize all good things, like the pleasantness of fall, must come to an end. The Avalanche won't maintain this pace. They can't. They are too much bluster and thunder, and all too quick. They will be great, but we must be aware.

The old dogs will soon rise.

Until then, with Beethoven on the breeze, I'm enjoying my favorite month with my favorite team.