The soil is dusty and full of dirt clumps that have solidified in the soil for years. My friend is trying trying to break up these clumps to make flower beds. It’s back breaking work. Each drop of the pitch hammer triggers a shattering of the ground. Clumps pop up. Dust shimmers in the blue sky. My throat is parched from the dust and heat. I dip a shovel into the piles of rock and sand and heave it into the plastic wheel barrel. The plastic creaks and bends with the weight of the stone. It’s nothing like the old heavy metal wheel barrels I remember as a kid, but this one works fine. I load it less and take my time. Age has caught up to me a bit. I am only 48 and I don’t move like I used to. I forge ahead. I am resilient, but I am by no means fast.
The work feels good. It reminds me of Italy. When I am in Italy I do manual labor with my friend Stefano. He refurbishes old stone houses. When I am there I roll up my sleeves, try not to get in the way and follow his lead. Stefano and his friends work like oxes.They’re strong. They accomplish quite a bit in a short time, but they also have fun. They chain smoke and take breaks for shots of grappa or espresso. It’s agonizing work, but when the day is done and the sun is setting and my back feels like it’s about to break I have a real nice feeling in my stomach. The plate of pasta for dinner tastes especially good and the sliced peaches afterward are sweet and memorable. Food taste better after that physical exertion.
I like it much better than sitting at a computer sending emails all day.