My Makes · My Neighborhood

Round-up of last week: WIPs, mugwort, and lilacs, and what’s to come

I’ve let a whole week and more pass since my last post, which I’m sorry for – there really is no excuse except that I’ve been distracted. We are still in a semi-lock-down in Korea, including my current online teaching for the university. There is every expectation that I’ll continue to teach online until the end of the semester.

The world is striving to stay healthy and keep loved ones physically shielded, but I think there is a psychological or emotional toll that will have to be reckoned with. I live alone with my dog, so despite my current single status, I do have a loving little soul to come home to. I stay in video contact with my family in the States, and manage to check in with friends here in Korea. Besides my classes and crafting, another thing that keeps me sane and productive is going out in nature.

Last week, I went out foraging for mugwort, a common springtime herb that I often see older Korea ladies collecting when the weather turns fine. It was my first time looking for it, and I found a trove of it only 5 minutes from my doorstep.

Mugwort is invasive and is often thought of as a weed; it has a lot of nutritious and curative properties, however. The variety I collected has the scientific name artemesia princeps, which is found in east Asia. Koreans use it to make a special seasonal rice cake. I have bundled up mine, and will dry it and make tea. In Chinese medicine, it is sometimes burned in a treatment called moxibustion, which is thought to have various restorative and curative uses.

Also this week, I did my annual Spring forage for lilacs! There’s a secret place behind my university where I can find them, and this year they were in abundance. Now my home smells amazing!

During this quiet time, I also have been concentrating on feeling grateful, as we are often reminded we should do. I am truly grateful for so much. But I feel at least a little wistful for thing I miss; there’s feeling of loss that I’ve deferred these last few weeks, knowing that life as I took for granted in the past may not be totally changed forever, but perhaps partially altered for a long, long time.

I miss my students and the dynamic energy of a live class; I miss seeing people’s entire faces and expressions in the street. I’ve taken to walking by my favorite shops in the neighborhood and making a big sweeping wave “hello” to the shopkeepers – a smile and nod can hardly be registered while wearing masks.

I miss being able to plan travel anywhere for the future, especially back home to the States. I miss the camaraderie of my co-workers.

Korea has handled the Covid crisis very well. There is a high degree of social cohesion among the people, no panic buying or long lines, and the government nailed their response in a timely manner. This is another thing I’m grateful for, but I feel for my compatriots at home who are still a few weeks behind the progression.

I’ll touch base again soon, maybe tomorrow, to share more craft goodness! I also want to share where I’m at with the Spice Market mandala! I am about 75% done with it, now.

Thanks for checking in, and be well.

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