There’s a park in Victoria, my Canada home, called Beacon Hill. It’s huge and beautiful. Weeping willows and cherry blossoms and peacocks and families of fat ducks floating on ponds. Baby goats in a petting zoo. Stone bridges crossing water. Miles of grass. My mom took my brother and I there to feed the ducks when we were kids, breaking off crumbs from old loaves of bread she saved for the outings in our freezer. I know, you’re not supposed to feed animals in parks, but it was common then (I think?), and my mom loved to toss the crumbs on the ground and let the ducks swarm the feast at our feet, listening to their quacks and the west-coast wind that gusted off the Pacific at the edge of the park. Those days were shortly after we moved to Victoria from Saskatoon, to be closer to the ocean, my mom said, and the artists there.
But I digress. The park is huge and beautiful, and I’ve been spoilt to envision its vast, inviting floor of grass when I hear the word “park.” I never thought about Beacon Hill as often as I have living in Korea, where an area on a map labelled “park” often turns out to be a concrete pad and an outdoor exercise gym enclosed by trees. Sometimes the parks here are big, and feature pathways to tread and various flora to admire, but there’s a consistent sparcity of grass–rarely will you find a wide-open space or something resembling a field. So it is.
But catch the subway line 2 to Centum, take exit 12, walk straight past Shinsegae, and you’ll come to Apec Naru Park. It borders the Suyeong River, and is filled with sculptures. It has more grass that you’d expect and a wide path along the water that you can cycle or walk along, taking in the view of the city buildings on the other side. The trees are tall and at night their silhouettes stretch up against a sky coloured dark pink from the street lights.
A couple weeks ago, my friends and co-teachers Kent and Amanda organized a gathering here. It began at 6 and ended sometime after 1 am. The theme was wine. We sampled from France, Chile, Australia, California, and a few other regions I don’t recall. We drank white and red and then a
little lot more red. Our crew hailed from from Wisconsin, California, Chicago, Colarado, Maine, Busan, and Vancouver Island. (Yep, that last one is me.) Not all are featured here, as my photographic inspiration kicked in a little late in the wine game, but the night and the promise of bottled goodness brought out a solid crew of 13. The park had a grass-and-stone circle to set up in, and a built-in glass-topped table for all our snacks and fruity/dry/smooth/spicy/long-finish offerings. The pics are a little blurry and pretty grainy, which is exactly how life looks after eight hours in a park with your friends and a grape buffet.
Thank you, Apec Naru. You just might pop up in the mind memory the next time I think “park.”
Beacon Hill–I will return.