Posts Tagged ‘home’

Welcoming Committee

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High Water Prayer, Po River, Italy © Jim Korpi

“Welcome to the country,” my closest neighbor Mr. Cooley said as a silver dollar-sized piece of skin on my left hand sizzled on the exhaust of the lawn mower he was trying to convince me to buy. Prior to this sales pitch, he pointed out how important it was to keep the property mowed.
Another neighbor pulled up our dirt driveway on his Harley Davidson, complete with saddle bags, the modern cowboy.
“If you don’t mow you’ll have to worry about these,” he warned as he pulled a quart-sized mason jar from his brown leather saddle bag and handed it to me. Coiled at the bottom of the transparent trap was the golden body of a young copperhead snake whose head was perched high and eyes were following every movement that surrounded him. “I keep a few of these in my freezer.”
From the front porch I watch as the yellow finches land on the seed heads of waist-high grass and balance themselves in the sway of their weight and the wind. They peck at the grass between their feet like a hungry farmer at a warm ear of corn. At dusk the pale grass comes alive with the flashing of a civilization of fireflies.

The Beaten Path

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Ice Cream in Desert, Bahrain © Jim Korpi

The first place they stopped was the first place their Lonely Planet guide suggested they eat with their budget. Simon searched his smart phone for a walking map to the restaurant while Barb read the address from the book.
They wanted authentic food, something off the beaten path. They had travelled all over the world and used their guidebooks to get to where they needed to sleep, eat, and to all the places they needed to see.
The street was lined with vendors selling souvenirs closely related to the geography, but often not. There were soccer jerseys for teams throughout Europe and colorful postcards of landscapes far from this street.
At the restaurant they recognized three couples from the hostel where they were staying. Their guidebook suggested a hostel it considered “clean and cheap.”
During dinner Simon and Barb planned their itinerary for the next day. Their hope was to see something different, something off the beaten path.
The gondola ride they took to the top of the mountain was something the guidebook said could not be missed. If they got there during lunch hours they were told they would avoid the long lines.
They had their tickets after waiting 15 minutes in a line. While boarding the back of the crowded gondola they recognized the same three couples from the restaurant the night before.

world without wilds

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Brush Fire, Edges Wild Series, Casselle Landi, Italy © Jim Korpi

In a world without wilds no coyotes howl in the front field. No raccoons dig under the garage door to get at the chicken feed. No snakes hide in the tall grass. No deer jump in the garden. No rabbits eat the herbs. No foxes eat the rabbits.

There are cats in the abandoned building sites. Pigeon shit breaks up the monotony of the cold stone streets. Fur coats are fashionable. Hunters place poison at the edges of fields to prevent domestic dogs from stealing the stocked pheasant they chase with shotguns and their own domestic dogs. Farmers lie poison on the paths of rodents who burrow by their crops. The deep ammonia smell of spread manure from feed lots opens the top of your nose and stays there until you shower with perfumed soap.

Every place you step feels overstepped, overrun, worn. No competition is left but that which exists among ourselves. The wild within us has been fenced in, locked up, bred out, or extinguished.

A wonderful life

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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

a prayer for reincarnation

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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.