[FOUNTAIN]Back to nature and simple life“Didn’t you bring newspapers with you?” the old man asked.
My high school teacher, gladly meeting my family when we visited him during our vacation, showed his nostalgia for the printed news of the civilized world.
Three years have passed since my teacher, now 69 years old, began living a secluded life in the country with his wife. They had lived in Bupyeong, near Incheon, for a long time.
But after the marriages of their two sons and daughter, the couple built a house at Nomun-ri, a remote village in Yangpyeong, Gyeonggi province, and moved there.
The way to my teacher’s home presented a picturesque scene with a wide lake beyond the Paldang dam. After some driving on the winding mountain road off the main highway, hearing the sounds of streams flooded with the monsoon rain, I finally found the cottage of my teacher in the woods of pine trees.
A hawk perched in a tree watched us with a vacant look. There was a sign over the gate, “A dwelling for a lazy old man”; one could hardly expect to see a newspaper there.
In the garden, wildflowers bloomed alongside already ripe millet that had sprouted from the crops grown to feed the birds.
The elderly couple prepared cabbages, unripe hot peppers and kale that they grew using organic farming techniques they learned from the Internet. I enjoyed a summer day with my teacher. He said he is now concentrating on translating the works of Confucius and Chuang Tzu.
My teacher and his wife are certainly not lazy. Though they are at the age where they need help from a cane, and their undyed hair was somewhat unkempt, they told this former pupil, exhausted by city life, about the plain and simple life in nature.
In the United States, a peace activist named Scott Nearing, who lived a secluded life in the forests of Vermont and Maine for 61 years, wrote a book, “Living the Good Life” along with his wife, Helen.
Henry Thoreau, famous for “Civil Disobedience,” described in his book “Walden,” published in 1854, how man could live freely in a simple life in nature and escape from the desires of city life.
Meeting with people who love living among nature made my soul refreshed. That vacation is one that I will often remember.
by Chun Young-gi
The writer is a deputy political news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.