Archive for December, 2014

A wonderful life


Delivering Christmas Cookies to Neighbors, Athens, Ohio © Jim Korpi

“Isn’t it wonderful!
So many faces!
Mary did it, George!
Mary did it!
She told some people you were in trouble, and then they scattered all over town collecting money.
They didn’t ask any questions – just said: ‘If George is in trouble, count me in…” – It’s a Wonderful Life


Breakfast, Austin, Texas © Jim Korpi

“We have a belief about America,” a Dutch friend of mine said. “We believe in America even a janitor can become president.”
The janitor in my grade school was a part-time farmer, part-time janitor, and it seemed as though neither professions afforded enough money to pay the mortgage and taxes.
Millions of people on this planet would trade their identity cards with that of an American instantly, without hesitation.
An Italian friend just got a call recently from the United States Green Card Lottery Program. “Your have been chosen as a qualified candidate for the green card program and have a good chance of obtaining a green card,” the caller said. “We just need 800 euros to process your paperwork.”

a prayer for reincarnation


Garden Fence, Edges Wild Series, Athens, Ohio © Jim Korpi

“It’s like a movie,” we say in times when we have no reference in visual reality. Our eyes communicate something to our brains that does not register.
I have no reference for what I saw last summer on my front porch.
Three barn swallows swooped in and out for about a week before we noticed four downy grey heads bobbing from the interior of their nest.
Their nest sticks against the face of a board on the right side of our decrepit porch like mud stuck to the fender of an old rusty truck.
The barn swallow is one of the most amazing creatures on the planet. Their flight is both eratic and calculated, graceful and unpredictable. Watching them makes me pray for reincarnation. “Please, Jesus, put in a good word for me up there, and let me be a barn swallow in my next life.”
The visits continued for another week and a half. The swallow parents, three of them, fed the growing offspring and then dipped off into the hills, nosediving our cats on their way to and fro.
I walked past the sugar maple guarding our house on my way in for lunch and noticed something different. A flock of 30-50 barn swallows were buzzing around the porch like bees around a hive.
I ran into the house to the bathroom window – my hunter’s blind – and looked out onto the porch without being seen.
Each swallow in the large swarming convoy took its turn dropping beneath the eave of the porch and up to the nest where it would hover for two or three seconds chirping and looking at the progress of the progeny inside before gliding back to the group.
The next day the four swallows in the nest were gone. They were ready.

stranger danger


Town & Country Series, Athens, Ohio © Jim Korpi

Jackson lies on the warm summer grass under a thin ornamental tree with his face covered by a baseball cap. The hope was to lapse into a 10 minute nap during lunch break. For the past four hours we hauled 50-pound packs of asphalt shingles up a 30-foot ladder.
“People in the city are afraid of people in the country,” Jackson states through the cotton of his hat. “People in the country are afraid of people in the city.”
Annah and I moved to an old farm house in the country from an apartment in town. In the night’s breeze limbs of an old sugar maple rub against the wood siding. This sound is someone trying to break in, steal all our belongings, and then tie us up and shoot us. This is the scenario going through my head at 3 am during a strong wind. I saw a movie once, heard a news report, or maybe it was something that happened to a friend of a friend when they were younger.
In 2010 there were 569 homicides in the state of Ohio. The FBI says 79% of all these murders are committed by friends, family, or acquaintances.
In the same year, in the state of Ohio, 26,164 people died of heart disease, 25,083 of cancer, 6,717 from Chronic lower respiratory diseases, 5,124 from “accidents,” 3,470 of diabetes, 1,975 from influenza, 1,911 from drug-induced causes, 1,439 from suicide, 1,252 from motor vehicle accidents, 1,244 from chronic liver disease, and 1,220 from hypertension.