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Reconcile with Winter

Winter in VA

I Love Winter Again

Winter was my favorite seasons while growing up. (Korea has four equally divided seasons.) I remember one winter we got so much snow, I felt like swimming. We went ice skating, snow and ice sledding, and made lots and lots of snowmen each year. There’s a great photo of my mom and my brother posing with their snowman. Three months of winter is enough time to do all that activities.

 

Winter in Korea is an experience. Even though our winter is harsh, it is enjoyable because of the exquisite ondol (central floor heating system) and all the comfort foods. A lot of Korean dishes are served hot, which is perfect for the cold days. Our old place used to have a traditional stove and ondol. It used briquettes for cooking and heating the floor at the same time. The proximity to the kitchen decides how hot your floor gets, and half of my room got really hot because if was right next to the kitchen, and balcony on the other side. The air was cold, but I always went under the bottom blanket as soon as I woke up (we didn’t have a bed). The floor was so hot as it could melt my body, but I relaxed me every time. My obsession with hot shower may started from there.

 

Ice skating

Ice skating (yes it’s me!)

Snow, it’s the best thing, isn’t it? It starts as crystalline water ice that falls from clouds, but it is much more than that when it reaches the ground. It has power of changing the entire scenery, and brings joy that makes dogs jump up and down through snow.

 

My relationship with winter was fragile for last couple years. Yangshou (China) in January changed my opinion entirely, and made me realize what is important in winter. It was in the middle of winter in China, I knew it was cold, but what I didn’t know was the lack of heating system. The room we had in Yangshou only had a small electric heating pad on the bed that was barely working. I have a high tolerance to cold temperature, but I couldn’t handle the fact that there was no place to heat my body at the end of the day. Winter in Seoul gets as cold as -17 Degree Celsius (1.4 Degree Fahrenheit) but I was okay because our house had a warm floor. Because the experience was so harsh, I escaped to Laos and decided to avoid winter since then. Except a couple months of holiday season here and there, the plan was successful. Most of the places I’ve been last year were all tropical: Malaysia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Northern India (in Summer), Philippines, Mexico, and so on.

 

Sometime in Malaysia, the feeling suddenly hit me ‘I miss being cold’. Part of it was because I was sick of wiping off a bucket of sweat every day, I’m sure. Maybe because I was so used to change of seasons, or because I was in love with the lovely winter for so long, I just missed it. As much as I enjoyed watching sunset on the beach with a cold beer, but it couldn’t fill the void of fluffy and fuzzy sweatpants and winter coat.

 

Not as cold as Seoul’s, but winter here in Virginia brings me joy everyday. The weather has been changing a lot for last couple weeks, but it sprinkled snow yesterday and formed beautiful ice covered trees all over the neighborhood. I had to travel with a winter coat through Malaysia, Namibia, and South Africa for this moment, and had to buy a few more long sleeve shirts, but it’s a wonderful feeling. The sharp wind against my cheek, I love it.

 

It’s just like life. We all walk on different paths by choosing different things in life, but eventually we will come back to what is really important at the end. It’s just interesting to realizing new things that are not really new, and getting to know more about myself day by day.

 

Juno Kim
Juno Kim
Juno Kim, Originally from Seoul, South Korea, Juno set off for the wider world to pursue her passion for travel and storytelling. She traveled the world as an award-winning travel blogger and photographer, witnessing the everyday life of different cultures. Currently based in Anchorage, Alaska and exploring this amazing Last Frontier. Follow my journey through @RunawayJuno and Instagram .

8 Comments

  1. I really miss the ondol system in Korea. My room here in NY is unevenly heated and I get all of the hot air, which means cracking my window and continuing to catch colds. I really like the first photo and the story. Also, mini-Juno is nomu kiowa 🙂

  2. SnarkyNomad says:

    Winter is a lot easier to deal with than burning hot sunshine. And I think some people just have biological differences. Heat must puts me to sleep. Apparently other people don’t have this problem, which is why they think it’s weird when I walk to the shady side of the street, and they think I’m insane when I tell them a good jacket will solve all of winter’s problems. Oh well.

  3. Raj kumar says:

    Hey Juno, I too love winter… specially in this season you can have hot- hot spicy food. My mother is a great cook she always serves hot snacks and delicious food items during winter. Thats the reason I love winter specially…………

  4. Johan Miles says:

    Although I love summer, I can understand your point of view. Winter is a great season with many activities taking place then. Nice article! Thank you!

  5. Steph says:

    I was so determined to skip winter completely this year after suffering through the Virginia cold last year. Now to my surprise, I do miss it. Not so much the being cold as all the other stuff that goes along with it: feeling Christmas-y, making soup, being bundled up by the fire etc. Sigh. Can’t win!

  6. Wannee says:

    I grew up in Thailand and I’ve never seen snow here. We are very excited when the temperature go down to 25 Degree Celsius (Usually we have 30+ Degree Celsius for the whole year). Well…I had a chance to live in Sweden one year and I lived there with snow almost 6 months! I was excited with my first snow there, but after 2 months I was so sick of snow.

    I think it is nice to live in a country that each season is divided equally like Korea and Japan. 🙂

  7. Mike Bugno says:

    Great pic of you skating!!

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