Last weekend turned out to be longer than expected. First Friday, then Monday turned descended upon the unsuspecting weekend, ultimately serving as bookends for a much needed four day break from the norm. As this was rather unexpected, I found myself cruising around the countryside on a Friday afternoon to the west of Gwangju city. Rounding one corner into the next valley, I noticed some vaguely familiar signs. An aging Hyundai Oilbank and a large white silo with three graves perched auspiciously on the hillside above. This was familiar territory, though one which I had not been for half a dozen seasons, if not more. A few minutes ride further down the long straight stretch of country road revealed a road sign which revolved any doubt. I was back at Gochang Goindol.
A couple years ago I wrote a post around an image which I took on my first trip to this area. For being so near to Gwangju, yet being so otherwise otherworldly in scope of time and scale of human achievement, this ancient dolmen site is surprisingly easy to miss. GPS abhors days made for wandering. Therefore, many times have I made just one (wrong?) turn which led me down a parallel valley to this. Usually, such days conclude at the coast around Muan, sipping a bottle of Makoli with friends or setting up the tripod for long exposure images of the surrounding island-scape. This day resolved itself with a prolonged nap behind the stone pictured above.
This ancient rock is not the biggest, or most impressive. However, for millennia now, it has rested on the downwards slope of the dolmen site facing a large cliff face a mile across the valley floor. Small hanok houses dot the large grassy plain which extends downward towards the main road. Behind it, a field of intensely saturated flowers buffer the monument from the forest which once overran the site until being excavated thirty years prior. It is a scene decidedly more exotic than cliché, as worthy of a deep sleep as it would be the rare contemplation of deep time. It was, thankfully, a return to the past in the present.
[This photo was taken with a Zeiss 50mm f2 Makro lens clicked to my old Nikon FE2. Luckily I had a roll of Velvia 100 already in the chamber. What better film to bring out the colors in the scene above. Even in the fading light of late afternoon, the film was surprisingly able to render the warm tones of the flowers accurately. The rock face cannot escape its magenta hue. Yet, concerning the slim latitude afforded by this color positive film, I feel the image holds up relatively well.]
(Image & text by Mary Miller)