I always looked up my hometown in Google Maps, counting the days till I went back.
In my hometown, Ok-Gwa, a small river flowed south and to the nearby mountain ranges; behind it loomed a hill. In spring, fragrant of wild chrysanthemums and dandelions, my friends and I would go to the nearby hill to harvest mugwort, shepherd’s purse, and other natural herbs that could be used for stew or mixed in a salad; by drying and brewing them, they served as alternative medicine. The entire day we spent harvesting these herbs, the birds and mountain rabbits seemed to hide, scared off by our loud laughter. We endlessly exchanged stories about our family, friends, the townspeople, and even celebrities. For the summer break, my cousins from the city would visit us and we packed watermelons and some refreshments and went to the river for a swim and to fish. In fall, we picked the prettiest leaves out of all the yellow and orange leaves that littered the streets and made bookmarks out of them. And in winter, when our nose and hands turned pink in freezing cold, my friends and I would go up the mountains to ski and sleigh until we got frostbites.