Mount Seorak River, South Korea - Michael Kim
A few years ago, when I was young, my family took me on a camping trip to Seorak Mountain in South Korea. We were hiking up the mountain and I, being the little seven-year-old boy I was back then, was fascinated with everything I saw: the abundance of trees, the colour of the leaves, the plants and insects that lived there; everything seemed so fresh and so exciting it’s hard to describe the amazement that I felt. After hiking into the mountain for a while, we finally decided on a place to set up our camp and rest. Even though I was tired, my curiosity and amazement got the better of me and I began my own little trip of exploration around the area (I say “trip”, but it was really just a couple of meters away from the camp since my parents wouldn’t let me wander any further).
Near our campsite, I noticed a stream of flowing water that immediately caught my attention, and so of course, I went to investigate. The stream was very shallow and didn’t seem like there were many fish in it like I was hoping for, but there was this one part of the stream that was large enough for tadpoles to reside in. In that part of the stream I saw a lot of small, dark-coloured tadpoles swimming and jumping around inside the water and on the rocks. Needless to say, these little creatures immediately had my focused attention. Beaming with interest and curiosity, I reached out and held one of the tadpoles in a cup with my hands. It felt a little ticklish in my palms, but at the same time, it was an amazing feeling holding the little tadpole and watching it swim around in circles and circles. I don’t really know why, but I really had the urge to keep one of these tadpoles at my house; except I knew that my parents would never allow it. So, I snuck a few of the tadpoles into my water bottle and successively brought them home without my parents noticing.
My retrieval success didn’t last long, however, and my parents quickly found out what I had taken back with me. As expected, they were infuriated and immediately insisted that I got rid of them. Even though I tried my best to persuade my parents to let me keep them, my pleas were to no avail and alas, I was forced to part with these new found friends of mine. After that, I remember pouring my water bottle into the drain in my backyard while sniffling and crying miserably. Thinking back on it now, it really is a funny and dumb story, but it’s something that I’ve remembered all this time and is a memory of a great connective bond that I shared with nature.