Hope the wind doesn't blow!

Hope the wind doesn’t blow!

Taking Leave(s)

A.V. Walters–

Six years on the farm cured me of a common American delusion—the need to clean up after nature. In rural living, nature is just too big to consider tidying up after her. Sure, if you make a mess (like after cutting firewood) you could clean it up, you could even mow, if you wanted or needed to. And, weeding in the garden makes good sense. But beyond that, I figure that nature is pretty much on her own.

When we left Two Rock, we gave away the lawnmowers. I don’t think I’m likely to live anywhere where I’ll need one, again. However, at our little, Empire rental, there is the issue of the leaves.

Our neighbors are positively obsessive about lawn care and leaf removal. I acknowledge that if you have a lawn, it’s better for the grass to remove the leaves. However, our garden implements are in storage—deep in storage. I’m not digging way to the back of the unit to find a rake so that I can collect the leaves at a rental. Besides, Empire is very windy. I note that there are often leaves there one day that are gone the next. (Sometimes, even in the direction of our obsessive neighbors.) In the old days, when I lived in the city, I used to enjoy raking leaves. But then there was the problem of what you’d do with them. If the city has a decent recycling program, it makes sense. But it makes no sense to gather them, only to pay to have them put in a landfill somewhere where they’ll never breakdown naturally.

I visited my brother this weekend. He has not raked at all this season. He lives on a tree-covered city lot, in a village with a great many trees. When we arrived, the leaves were deep in his front yard—in some places, a foot deep. Like many suburban folks, he secretly believes that the wind patterns deposit all the nearby leaves in his yard. He supports this theory by the fact that the leaves lay in deep drifts over his lawn, even as his neighbors lawns are relatively leaf free. And, he notes that some of the leaves in his yard are oak leaves, and he has no oak tree. Of course, those same neighbors, whose yards are clear, have been diligently blowing and/or raking those leaves into neat piles and removing them, regularly, for a couple of months. Still, my brother clings tightly to his leaf-conspiracy theory.

He lives in a community, where, if you deliver your leaves to the edge of the street (there are no curbs) the village will regularly send around a big, leaf-sucking rig to spirit away one’s unwanted autumn harvest. These leaves are then composted, so suburban homeowner’s can maintain their tidy lawns and feel positively righteous. If one doesn’t rake and remove, there’s always the possibility that the Village could cite you, or worse. I decided that I could help out by raking his leaves.

Waiting for Pick-Up

Waiting for Pick-Up

It went well at first. It was actually fun, wading shin deep and using my rake (and my body) as a plow. Soon, though, it became clear that I was going to run out of street-edge on which to deposit the autumn harvest. (And he has a corner lot!) The neighbors have tidy, minimalist leaf piles. The more I raked, the crazier my pile got. I began to marshall the leaves to the edge of the yard. A simple pile wasn’t going to do it, more like a line. Then, a wall. As I worked, the wall got taller, and deeper. I wasn’t sure what the rules were—just how thick could my wall get and still be leaf-suckable?

I started getting comments from neighbors as they walked by: “I sure hope you’re getting paid for that!” (I’m not.) “That looks like a lot of work!” (Yup.) “What are you gonna do with all them leaves?” (I dunno.) Some kids came by waving and laughing at the height of my leaf pile. One almost launched herself into it but I caught her eye, and brandished my rake, “You do, and you’ll have to rake it back up!” She giggled and ran off.

By the time I finished, I’d built a veritable fortress with my leaf-wall. It was three to four feet high, and at least as deep, running some 160 feet on two sides. I don’t know if it will work for the leaf-sucker, but I’m not really concerned. I don’t live here.

I was going to bury this car, but my nephew came out and caught me.

I was going to bury this car, but my nephew came out and caught me.

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