There’s something different about the “office gossip” when you’re tied to a piece of land you’re cultivating. Especially if cultivating is your livelihood, but also, it seems, when it’s your hobby. It’s like that phrase, “getting back to the land.” Certainly when I hear it, I think, ‘this person means to invoke a hint of nostalgia to the conversation, to celebrate simplicity, to champion physical labor.”
I don’t often think of another associated meaning also deeply rooted in this aphorism. Smaller Social Circles. I consider myself an urbanite, a city dweller, an appreciator of fine culture (often as handed down by bigger cities and corporations), aware of some, but not all, global trends. To get back to the land seems to imply that I’m going to eschew certain New Yorkers with their television shows as my neighbors, and certain residents of Hollywood are no longer worth my notice. I don’t know if it’s conscious, what these cultivators are doing by rejecting some of their broader context, but it seems to be a prerequisite for creating something that grows from the ground.
What they’ve got on their minds takes up more of it, and there aren’t enough extra fields left over to plants seeds of gossip about music, fashion, celebrities, cinema, and art into the ground. Not when there must be concentration on planting, sowing, harvesting, the weather, and thirty or so varied crops. (If you’re a small farmer, like the ones I’m basing my observations on.) And once the last crop is plucked from the ground, there are irrigation systems to remove or rework, there’s pumpkins waiting to be pureed and preserved, and there’s peppers waiting to pickle.
Their after-work business isn’t finding out about gossip, it’s saving what they’ve made. There’s only so long a tomato can hold before it starts to mold. There’s also a more intimate connection to be made with a jar of homemade sauce than a computer article (the kind I will admit, I get sucked into frequently), about who wore what to New York Fashion week.
When the hard work of the farmer is done for the winter, they are left with jars and cans and tangible results. When I’m done with my articles there isn’t much left. Vague feelings of being connected, but not to anyone who knows me, still linger in my brain, and a round of conversation starters. I don’t want to say that one is “better” than the other, only that they are different. Only that it seems like choosing to follow the land results in actual fruit for your labor, or at least jam, and that choosing to follow a virtual connected world leaves you with intangible produce.