I love to travel. I love to dwell in one place in a different country, then take day trips to explore new vistas and adventures. Most of all, I love to find a local bakery, cafe, or gathering place where I can overhear the news. (The driveway paving job is outrageously overpriced! Farmers are finally done with the fields for the season. Did you hear that Millie is sick again? Foul weather is coming! Hunting season starts today. The platform being built in the town hall will never get done the rate those guys are going. We can’t believe there was snow north of here while we have warm sun–it’s going to be a hard winter, mark my words. Did you hear what the [U.S. president] said yesterday?)
Tiny towns are a wonderful reminder to me that life is both difficult and simple. Gathering places serve the function of making sure no one is isolated in any circumstance. Important (and perhaps less-important) news is brought to the table. Men gather in groups and women gather in groups. The news differs at each table, but weaving together all the stories provides a pretty comprehensive picture of goings-on. Even beautiful landscapes outside the window pale in comparison to the generous camaraderie over a cup of tea and a sugar cookie.
Best of all, these gathering places remind me that humanity is not doomed to have relationship only with electronic devices despite all the editorial claims otherwise. The social ways of community are not lost completely. I never thought I would enjoy the downright gossipy nosiness of small village; perhaps I wouldn’t if I were the subject of the conversation.
Uh oh. They’re sending me furtive glances. I am the subject of their conversation! Stranger in the midst with the only laptop in the whole bakery. (Who is she? Where is she from? How long is she staying? Where is she staying? Is she listening to us? Why is she smiling? — sotto voce) Ah well. Yes, I am listening. Time for another cup of tea. It’s a small price to pay to hear the local take on politics, the state of the season, joys and concerns, and what makes the world go ’round. I wish I could take pictures. Sotto pictura.