"It is the poet's job to remember"
Gerald Stern

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Here come the leaves...oh my

         We are in the middle of what I call the Bazooka Leaf Blower Wars. Since the invention of those dreadful mechanically propelled gale force wind machines, autumn has never been the same. Oh, people have been obsessive about leaves on their lawns since the late 70's when one person decided no leaf shall toucheth thy blades of grass...and he told two people...and they told two people...and suddenly all the suburbs were knee deep in raking. Over the last decades, it has escalated into a full force frenzy, sounding like a war zone on your own street, with distant artillery thundering in the bordering neighborhoods.

          Homeowners blow "their" leaves out of their zone into the street and into someone else's zone. Arguments have erupted over whose leaves are whose at the curb when they don't get picked up fast enough by whatever authority is supposed to do so, and drift back onto a oh-my-goodness-don't-let-a-leaf-mar-my-lawn-crabass' property. Along with the enemy leaves, those industrial strength blowers send dirt and stones...hey, look how neat and clean our sidewalks can be...into the storm drains, onto the windshields of parked cars, and into the eyes of anyone within 25 yards.

        Raking leaves used to be a out-doorsy relaxing thing to do in crispy fall weather. The only sound was the rasp of the rake (metal or bamboo) being pulled over the grass and the crinkly dry leaves falling on each other as you moved them along. Until it was outlawed, we burned leaves. Okay, a little dangerous and not good for the environment, but the unique smell of burning leaves meant Halloween and Christmas around the corner to generations of kids.  People would take a break, lean on their rakes and talk to each other. There was no need to wildly signal slashing your throat to get the guy next door to cut off the power on his backpack so you can tell him the noise just sent his cat up a tree and the UPS man is on his porch trying to get his attention.

        I don't think my children ever raked up huge piles of leaves and then jumped in them just for the heck of it. Poor things. The kids in my neighborhood could spend a whole afternoon going from one yard to the next, raking and jumping into mounds of red and gold and orange until there was nothing left but pulverized bits that were dragged to the curb on old blankets and plastic shower curtains to be burned by our respective parents. Sometimes, if the leaves were dry enough, there would be nothing but dust at the end of the day.

         Apparently those repeated, cushioned, heavy landings by multiple children did not kill the lawn as often as the much dreaded fallen leaves are believed to do now. Maybe the grass was hardier then. Maybe we weren't as neat and liked our neighbors too much to care if nature sent some fleeting drops of color our way. Maybe we really did have peace and forgot to notice.


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  2. You are such an awesome author.

    This post proves that consistency is your hallmark.