Holy leaf blower! We have enough trees to start an arboretum. If you’d been in my living room this morning, you’d have seen me staring out my window and muttering something like, “I swear we have more trees in the fall than we do in the summer and we could really use the shade then.”
You wouldn’t have believed me, but it’s true. Our yard gets bigger too. It’s already plenty big in the spring, but by raking time, it’s the size of an 18-hole golf course with extra hazards. You try raking that.
If you’re still in my living room a few days from now—I’m not sure why you’d hang around that long, but if you do — you’ll likely hear me muttering again. “Why do we rake anyway? It’s not natural. Autumn is called fall because that’s what the leaves do, and leaves are called leaves because that’s what we’re supposed to do with them.”
And don’t try to convince me otherwise. No one hiking in the forest ever thinks, “This is great, but it would be even better if someone would rake it.” Even someone foolish enough to think that probably has enough sense not to volunteer.
Anyway, Mother Nature has a plan for leaves. Why do you think God made wind? To blow your leaves into your neighbor’s yard, that’s why. Fortunately, my neighbors like to rake. They must. They’re always doing it.
If you’re still here when I’m peeking around my curtains watching them rake, you’ll likely hear me grumbling again, “I wish you’d stop. You’re making me look bad.”
An acquaintance once told me that a neighbor who doesn’t rake is worse than a neighbor who has loud parties. Remind me never to move in next door to her.
I disagree, of course. I can sleep while the neighbor’s leaves blow onto my lawn — even if I’m lying on a lawn chair in my backyard while it’s happening. But she made me realize the truth about raking: Some people rake their leaves because they think they should rake their leaves. Other people rake their leaves because they think their neighbors think they should rake their leaves. The former are very prompt about raking. The latter aren’t so prompt; quite often their leaves are mixed with snow.
What if my neighbors are only raking their leaves because they think I want them to? By leaving my leaves, I’d show them that’s not the case. I’d be doing my part to end the leaf arms race and bring about peace and more leisure time for all my neighbors. I’d be a hero.
Nevertheless, if you wait around long enough, you’ll eventually see me pick up my rake and head for the lawn. Believe it or not, I always do it eventually. It just takes me a lot of grumbling to work up to it.
And it takes even more to get the job done. If you stay around to watch, you’ll hear me mumbling about my two giant cottonwoods. They have leaves the size of bicycle tires and one of them consistently waits to start shedding them until the other is very nearly done. You might hear me mumbling that raking leaves in our yard is like shoveling snow during a blizzard. And that if we ever sell our house, I probably should disclose this to potential buyers, the way you have to disclose termite damage and lead paint. It could be a deal breaker.
You might also hear me say something like, “Are you still here? Why aren’t you raking?” And I won’t be mumbling.
Dorothy Rosby is the author of three books of humorous essays including “Alexa’s a Spy and Other Things to Be Ticked off About, Humorous Essays on the Hassles of Our Time.” Contact [email protected]