Our neighborhood in suburban/rural southern Maine is plagued by leaf blowers. Let me unload the thesaurus with more appropriate verbs: afflicted, inundated, and overwhelmed. Without fail, each fall the leaf blowing horde descends on Chases Pond Road, polluting the air with their mechanical blowhards. For hours! Their mission? And they have chosen to accept it, is to blow every last leaf into the next century! No surprise, it’s always guys. I’m just saying.
Try sitting outside on our front deck reading the Times (I am not a barbarian.) during this cacophony! Incessantly high-pitched, these disturbers of the peace mess with our country road calm. Winter snows are a sweet relief to this disharmony.
As an alternative to such mayhem, for the 36 years that Hannah and I have lived on our acre and a half lot on Chases Pond Road, we’ve raked leaves – a tradition as American as apple pie and thinking the other political party is the devil.
It’s a known fact that this country was built on the shoulders of the good people who raked their lawns! Our home is in the center of a one-time forest with 70’ red and white oaks and beech trees. When our kids, Molly, Robyn, and Will, were young, they had leaves aplenty for jumping in and splashing about. A Norman Rockwell childhood to say the least!
Now that the kids have left the nest, Hannah and I, at the spring-like age of 70, continue to rake yellow and brown leaves by the millions. Damn proud of being American leaf rakers, we buy into the notion that motion is lotion.
Throughout the month of November, we rake for 15 to 30 minutes at a time. Not insanely obsessed, we take it slow. The beauty of our lot in the woods is that we don’t bag a single leaf. We can just rake our leaves into the woods for nature’s composting. But…
Lately my right elbow has been acting up after just five minutes of raking. Over the last three years as a pickleball player, I have been sidelined by bouts of tendinitis. Ergo, over the last year, 45 to 60 minutes of daily stretching has literally got me back in the game; I don’t want to mess with the joy and athletic challenge I find on the pickleball court. Today, after five minutes of raking, I say no mas.
Still, this cruel April we have masses of leaves that we just didn’t get to last fall emerging from the snow. These soggy leaves will smother our grassy, mossy lawn that grows every type of weed and dandelion known to woman and man. To rake or not to rake? That is the question.
As Hannah and I sit over wine one evening in early April, I am ready to introduce the L word – leaf blower.
No reason you might have guessed this about me, but I hate lawn machines. We do have a lawn mower, but that is serviced by Eldredge Lumber every two years when it just won’t start because of my neglect. We have no snow blower. Things just go wrong with machines and I can’t fix them. Truth be told, I don’t want to even try.
But it is time to consider a leaf blower. A leaf blower! God, forgive me! We can buy one, but it seems so wasteful for everyone in the neighborhood to have a leaf blower. What about a community leaf blower? We Americans pride ourselves on our independence. What about our interdependence? What about waste? What about the survival of the planet? All important questions, but I digress.
Though we live within a neighborhood of 25 homes on half acre lots, we are not close socially at all. A few greetings when we pass, but nothing like the neighborhoods of the good folks in Ithaca, New York.
So, it seems that we’ll just suck it up and buy our own leaf blower. And then, I realize that our son-in-law Tip has a leaf blower. Maybe we can rent it or pay for the gas or something to share it.
Texting that suggestion to him, I quickly get his response, what’s ours is yours. What a guy! I know Tip hit the lottery marrying our daughter Molly, but she hit a home run herself with Tip.
Tip drops off his leaf blower and I blow leaves and try to ignore my contribution to noise pollution (quite the interior rhyme!). You see, nowadays I’m just a little less self-righteous when I hear the cacophony of leaf blowers. A love affair? Not yet, but we are becoming fast friends.
As I sit out on our front deck with this week’s Sports Illustrated, I hear the sound of a neighbor’s leaf blower, smile, and think, he must have a little tendinitis and needs to use his leaf blower.
You see, I no longer reside in the “Leaf Blower Judgment Zone.”