Sunday, 18 April 2010

Aunt Kimchi’s Garden

When we showed up in August, there were two small gardens in front of our house. One of them had a few flower bushes, and the other was overgrown with patches of sesame leaves. Now that spring had arrived, Jess and I thought it would be fun to grow a few plants of our own. We called up Aunt Kimchi to ask if it was okay for us to use it, and she said, “Of course you can grow vegetables! If you don’t, what are you going to eat?”

The gardens weren’t exactly in the best shape for gardening (they were filled with weeds, garbage, and old bush stumps), so we went out and bought some gloves for the cleanup. We were both pretty excited about spending time working outside together, but unfortunately the weather wasn’t cooperating with us. Clouds moved in and the temperature dropped, so we decided to postpone our gardening until next weekend.

The rest of our day was spent isolated in our house with snacks and movies.

Later that evening, I left the house to pick up a few groceries. I immediately noticed something different about our garden. The stumps had been ripped out, the weeds had all been removed, and the soil had even been turned. It’s as if an army of gardeners had snuck onto our property and prepared the garden for us while we were watching movies. I wasn’t exactly sure how to feel about the whole thing. One side of me was uncomfortable with the thought of a bunch of people working in our yard without us knowing about it, but the other side of me was grateful that we wouldn’t have to do the “dirty work” of getting the garden ready. As with most other oddities that have happened here in Korea, I just shrugged it off and continued to the store.

At around nine o’ clock at night, we heard shuffling noises from our front yard, followed by loud banging on our door. Dressed only in PJ pants and a hoodie, I answered. It was Aunt Kimchi, and she immediately started yelling in her rapid-fire-Korean, demanding a knife. She pushed her way into our entrance, and I beckoned her to stay there while I got one for her. I quickly ran to our kitchen and returned with a large butcher knife. She took it, turned back outside, and disappeared into the night.

Confused, I immediately turned on the outside lights, slipped on my shoes, and went after her. I found her at the far garden busily digging holes for the collection of plants she brought over from her house. Jess and I watched as she planted one of the gardens for us, and as much as we tried to tell her that we could do it ourselves, she insisted on doing all of the work on her own. When she was done, she said her goodbyes and disappeared into the night as quickly as she had arrived.

Well, I guess we have a garden now.

- Ken

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