When I was in my 20s I lived in Washington D.C. next door to Miss Elenore, a woman in her 80s.
She was absolutely compulsive when it came to yard work and seemed to rake our leaves more often than I bathed, and I’ve always been pretty compulsive about that. I’ve never understood the purpose of raking at all, and I’m even more confused why if one is going to go through all that work, people don’t wait until all the leaves are down before pulling out the plastic bags. Of course, having the reputation I have, it’s pretty hard to convince people that this isn’t the justification of a lazy lout who doesn’t want to rake.
I may be a lazy lout, but I’m a lazy lout raised in the Judeo-Christian tradition (i.e. I’m capable of feeling immense guilt). Let me tell you, having an 80-year-old raking your leaves induces great pangs of guilt.
Unable to get Miss Elenore to stop grabbing a rake every time she saw a leaf flutter by we compromised. She agreed to only sweep leaves in a pile and I would dispose of them. Instead of raking them into bags, a task requiring a vast expenditure of energy, not to mention being environmentally unsound, I simply threw them on my compost pile. This worked fine for the first few days, but having a small yard I only had a small compost pile. The compost pile grew at an alarming rate. First it covered the long stem dandelions, prize-winning beauties if I ever saw any. Within a week the leaves solved the problem of what to do with my excess zucchini. The plants just became part of the compost pile, a fate that seemed somewhat ghoulish in an Edgar Allen Poe fashion.
The pile soon was higher than the yard was wide. If Sir Isaac Newton had been sitting in my yard he never would have never discovered gravity because he’d have been buried in leaves, never felt the apple fall, and would have been lost to history.
Where is a gypsy moth when you want one? What’s wrong with a little natural pruning? I bet George Washington chopped down the cherry tree because he got tired of raking the leaves.
Escaping the chore of raking is probably one of the principal reasons men go hunting in the fall. Of course, this can lead to problems in the spring. According to a taxidermy journal I once drew cartoons for, wall mounts must be cleaned regularly to avoid deterioration. A moose should be vacuumed from the snout up. A pheasant should be scrubbed with freshly baked white bread–torn, not sliced, and don’t use grained breads since they would be too rough!
Just the thought of all this work is making me tired, so I’m off to take a snooze in my hammock with my puppy, Sammy. Happy belated autumnal equinox.
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