Cherry Blossoms: A Bit of Pink Amidst the Gray
This is the third spring that Alex and I have spent in Korea, and the first one where we have had to constantly monitor our air quality app on our phones (and not just because we have Baby M to worry about). The air quality seems to have gotten worse each year we’ve been here. So far this year, I can count on one hand the number of days the air quality has been “good” (with “moderate” to “unhealthy for sensitive groups” being the norm, with an occasional “unhealthy for all individuals”). There are days when I have to keep Baby M inside because the air is so bad (and I don’t think a face mask would stay on her for more than a second!). We even purchased an air purifier (air washer, in Korea) that runs 24/7 in Baby M’s room.
Is it yellow dust blowing in from the Gobi Desert? Smog from Beijing? Pollution generated within Korea? Probably a combination of all three. But whatever it is, it has really made Alex and me appreciate the clean air we took for granted while in living in the U.S.!
In the last two weeks, cherry blossoms started blooming everywhere: on a couple of trees along the street downstairs, along the Han River, in Olympic Park, and of course, around Seokchon Lake (a manmade lake behind the new Lotte World Mall). [The cherry blossom festival for Seokchon Lake was this past weekend — the air quality was, at best, 140, unhealthy for sensitive groups, and at its worst over 180, unhealthy for all… I wonder how many people braved the nasty air to get a glimpse of the blossoms and partake in the festival?]
A week ago Monday, I woke up to blue sky (and saw some mountains, in the distance, that I hadn’t seen for, I swear, a year!). I quickly opened all the windows in our apartment, and as soon as Baby M woke up from her lunchtime nap, popped her in her stroller and headed for the lake. We did one loop around Seokchon Lake (stopping at a few places to take pictures, but more importantly, for me to hold a fussy Baby M as well as pick up her hat which she kept taking off her head and throwing onto the ground). I guess a lot of people had the same idea about taking advantage of the first clear, warm day, because the path was packed!
A couple days later, the air was decent, so we took a walk to nearby Olympic Park (FYI – not a very friendly park for strollers). I gave a cherry blossom to Baby M to smell, and she promptly put it in her mouth. Lovely. Shame on Mommy for thinking something wouldn’t go in her mouth!
And, this past Monday, we met with a friend and her son to take another walk around the lake. (This time, Baby M’s hat stayed put, thanks to my friend Renee, who attached an elastic band.) Some of the trees were already more green than pink, but it was still a nice walk.
I really hope the air gets better, because keeping a baby – who is on the verge of crawling – inside all day is … going to drive me bonkers! I can’t wait for the next clear day so that I can throw open the windows, and go for a walk.