Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Inevitable Fall

Dried and colored leaves on Ringstraße in Vien...Image via WikipediaI've been aware of it for a couple of weeks now, but I avoid dealing with it like the plague.  And every day it gets worse, of course, because the winds whip up and more and more of those darn leaves come sauntering down, down, down.

So when I saw that it was a relatively wind-free and sunny day today, I finally put on the gardening clothes and the work boots, grabbed the rake and the smelly old tarp and proceeded to rake the back yard.

Is there supposed to be an art to it?  A technique?  I think I'm really smart at first and rake from the outside in to the centre of the yard, but it's never quite as neat and organized as I'd like it to be.  I huff and puff and a blister forms on my thumb where it meets the rake handle.  I switch hands, but I'm not really good at it left-handed, so I switch back again.  I stop and look back over what I've done.  Did that bunch of leaves just fall there like that, or did I just miss them?  Crap.  Back I go to re-rake that part of the lawn.  I re-rake a lot.

I used to laugh at guys who used leaf blowers.  Wimps, I thought.  Why do guys always have to use big, loud machines to do everything for them?  Lazy wimps.  So I scoffed at my husband when he brought one home one year.  It took two or three years before I finally broke down and tried it.  I had to doff the ear muffs and secure the strap over my shoulder and hold it just right before I was prepared to turn it on.  Wow!  If it's dry enough, a leaf blower works like a hot damn.  And I finally got it, why men like big, loud machines.

But I felt guilty using electricity to blow leaves, for pete's sake.  So I went back to doing it the hard way. In our city, the city workers come around once a year with one of those big trucks and suck up the leaves along the boulevards.  They encourage home owners to rake the leaves from their yards out to the boulevard so they can be included in the great suck.  That means finding a way to get the leaves from the back yard into the front.  We use the tarp method...pile the leaves up onto a big tarp and drag it from the front yard to the back.

I didn't have any help from my husband this time (something's wrong with my laptop, dear, I have to take it in and get it fixed...ha!), so it was up to me to do the job.  I huffed and I puffed and re-raked and scraped until I got half the pile onto the tarp.  I folded the sides of the tarp up over the pile so the leaves wouldn't escape and proceeded to haul it from the yard, around the van in the driveway, along the side of the house, all uphill, until I collapsed, out of breath on the boulevard.  Why is it that streams of cars drive by and people are always walking up the sidewalk when I'm at my dirtiest, sweat-soaked, wheezing self in the front yard?  It never fails.

One pile dumped, one more to go.  So I brought the tarp to the backyard again and scraped and huffed and re-raked some more and finally got the last little bunch of wet leaves onto the tarp.  I folding the sides of the tarp up, grabbed one end and stepped backwards, hauling it through the yard.  That's when I saw one leaf fall down from the maple tree on to the lawn that I had finished raking.  It landed upright with its stock in the grass...it had two holes that looked like eyes and one hole that looked like a mouth.

And it was laughing at me.

IJ
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