Raking Leaves

falltree

Autumn. The beauty of leaves changing colors. Leaves falling to the ground.

In the forest these leaves provide a natural blanket for trees and other plants ahead of the snow and cold of winter. They are a sight to behold. Over time they dissolve and become a natural food for the trees they came from. Circle of Life.

In the suburbs the beauty of the leaves becomes transformed as they change from picturesque to chore. In the suburbs they are not a blanket, they are a pest to eradicate. Eliminating fallen leaves can go in many directions.

In my youth we would pile the leaves into the street and burn them. I can still remember the aroma of burning leaves.

When I was a younger man and my son was little we would rake leaves together. Kids at that age thought of these types of activities as fun not chores. We would build large piles of leaves and before  just putting them in bags we would jump in the piles  and throw leaves at each other. There are some ways of having fun that are not connected to new technology and can be handed down from father to son for generations.

We have had two bad experiences with autumn leaves. One year was especially busy with work, my son’s sporting events and life activities. We apparently did not rake our leaves soon enough to suit our neighbors– well at least one.  As I pulled the car into our garage I noticed something by our front door. I discovered a rake. The rake had a note attached. “This is a rake. Use it.” How neighborly.

Last year without asking, our lawn service cleared the leaves for a couple of weeks in a row. My initial reaction was how nice to not have to do that chore this year. My son was 17 and no longer found raking leaves with dad to be fun. My reaction charged to anger when I saw the bill for several hundred dollars for leaf clearance and a special charge for hauling them away. (In my suburb you can place your bags of leaves ain the alley and the city takes them away for free.) For $30-$40 I could have had some neighborhood kids do what I was charged hundreds to do.

This brings us to Fall 2009. Last saturday was Halloween. I was home passing out candy and decided to start on my leaves. It was a cool, crisp fall day. Perfect for some outside activity. I made several piles of leaves and filled the five lawn bags I had in the house.  i was not close to done but by now it was dark and I could not take off to get more bags because trick-or-treaters were still coming to the door.

I finished 90% of the job yesterday. Nine more bags. A couple of hours of work. Raking leaves is one of those activities that can become Zen-like. When I started yesterday the neighborhood was relatively quite. The re were sounds of people moving around, the occasional dog barking and the sounds of children. At that time I was in a zone. Me. The rake. The leaves. The task at hand. I was getting an old fashion workout (I was working), my mind was at ease (which it rarely is). No thought of work or responsibilities. Me. The rake. The leaves.

Today our back yard. After that I will need to wait until the ground is covered with snow to find the same  Zen-like experience.  Maybe I can go around the neighborhood and ask to rake leaves. Nothing like an extra $30 bucks burning a hole in your pocket.

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