Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Yeoman's Work

I use the phrase "yeoman's work" from time to time, but I did not know its origins until my curiosity finally drove me to poke about online. It turns out that in the 15th and 16th century, British farm owners were referred to as yeoman. Sowing, tending, and harvesting sizable acreages was recognized as backbreaking labor, so the phrase "yeoman's work" came to refer to any type of work that required great physical effort and exertion.

For the most part, I would not say that I especially enjoy projects that require such hard labor. Those that need to be done out of necessity, I complete (eventually), but I tend to mutter and complain about the task from start to finish. However, one job that I tackle each year that involves yeoman's work is the remulching of the landscaped areas in my yard. Yet with this job, I take a notable satisfaction in its tackling. When the work is completed, I am drenched with sweat, bone-weary, and every muscle in my body aches. But, sitting back and looking at the completed work, somehow fills me with a sense of pride and accomplishment. Perhaps in working the land, I am rekindling some deeper connection with those farm workers from long ago.