Posts Tagged ‘work’

Ten Inches

Plain & Simple, Amish Country, Ohio © Jim Korpi

Ten inches fell on his driveway and everywhere around it.
The snow is downy and the air stiff with temperatures well below freezing. This he knows to be the best time for clearing.
His shovel hangs ready in the garage beside the spade, leaf rake, and garden fork. All these will now rest for the winter while the snow shovel carries on from here.
The mailman refuses to drive up his long, steep driveway with snow. This bothers him none. He prefers to be left alone.
Shoveling starts with the walkways. They are then swept clean. His footprint forms packed, hardened tracks on the paths, so he scrapes these away with the sharp edge of the shovel. If the snow melts and again freezes, he knows his paths will be ice.
He plows lines and throws loads ahead of himself as the shovel fills. A pain in his lower back pulses. He is sure not to look ahead at the covered driveway as he notices light flakes beginning to fall again.
Tomorrow another ten inches is in the forecast.


Property Line, Athens, Ohio © Jim Korpi

“Why is it some of the older men we know seem grumpy and some just happy to be alive?” I ask a friend in the shade of the kitchen.
It’s painfully hot outside and the air damp.
His skin is speckled with hay stuck to his face and bare arms, and his hair resembles a bird’s nest. His shirt is plastered to his chest as if he swam with it on.
The loft in the barn is now full and ready for the coming winter.
He takes a minute to think and swallow a quart jar of water.
“I think it’s just what they did for a living. Some people had it easy, some hard.”


Valle D’Aosta, Italy © Jim Korpi

“Who wants to wake up at 4 am and milk cows when you have two degrees from a university?” An Italian friend asks over a beer.
Dairy farms throughout the north of Italy have been hiring Indians to run their milking operations. “Italians don’t want to do the work,” a dairy farmer told me. The conversation starts with the subject of immigrants, a common discussion in today’s Europe. In a country priding itself on the value of food and ingredients, there is a fading value placed on the work done by those who bring about such necessities.

The Destructiveness of Ease


Poplar Harvest, Caselle Landi, Italy © Jim Korpi

Pearl is 86 and heats with wood. He has for the length of his life. When a friend asked how he splits his firewood, he answered,”With an Armstrong splitter.” He raised two fists head high and drew them in to flex his biceps.
Pearl had gone his whole life chopping wood by hand and can still do so. Perhaps the reason he can still do so is because he does.
“I’m cold!” I would tell Dad when the New England winters in our old house got to me. “Then put some clothes on,” he would say regardless of the layers already worn. After cutting firewood to last the winter for our family and his parents, he knew the cost of warmth.
With the ease of which we do most things there is often a disconnected violence attached, an unconscious destructiveness, a carelessness. Care is neither given nor taken.
“The reason I love digital photography is because I can take as many photos as I want and delete the ones I don’t like,” I have heard people say.
What if the photographs we take are of people? What if the intrusive act of documenting life was not as easy to do and to discard? Would we do it as often? Would we think more about what it is we are actually in the act of doing?

expectations on man

Movement of Grass, Eastern Shores, Virginia © Jim Korpi

If I were a carpenter,
With calloused hands
And all to be expected of a man,
Would you still love me?

My grave and allotted soil
Will know only what I provide.
It asks not what I was, or what I am
But only for me to stay.

Am I not like the tree?
Whose limbs lose the burden
Of yesterday’s season, rest,
And birth new form.

The me who has been
Will no longer be.
Freed from the worldly,
I return. Reborn.
Naked, I hold no instruments
Of art nor the tyranny of trade.

I ask only for the breast
To feed me
And the warm comforting calm.