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Getting All Those Leaves Off the Lawn Is Autumn's Thankless Chore

New England is beautiful in the fall, but leaf duty just blows.

It was one of those days where nothing was going right, or so I thought. The leaves were embedded and layered all over the yard. I stepped outside for leaf duty, which is not only tedious but a commitment. There's the goal and challenge to complete the work and not be a slacker who finishes half way, leaving the piles through winter.

Autumn in New England is beautiful, but leaf duty just blows.  

The heavy duty, back pack-style, Husqvarna leaf blower had an attitude. You know the drill.  Pull the starter, prime it, pull, flood it, wait ... repeat. It was enough to try the patience of Job himself. I paced around the driveway, hands on hips, angry ... mumbling colorful, four-letter vocabulary.  

Once the routine became familiar, the blower worked overtime while the leaf piles accumulated. Refilling the blower with gas grew repetitive (prime, pull, flood, wait, repeat, curse.) While I squeezed through bushes and small trees, the gas cap popped off, lost forever in the abyss of expired shrubbery. Knowing a small, black gas cap lay somewhere in the Land of The Lost was a major setback. It explained why my jeans were wet, reeking like an Exxon station. Since finding a replacement cap proved unsuccessful, improvising with a rag and tightly wound rubber band was the only option for a temporary cap.    

Within the leaves, I unearthed rodents in various stages of decay and bird feathers left by the cat — not to mention the fragrant land mines randomly left by the dog.

Autumn in New England is beautiful, but leaf duty just blows.  

While the wind continued to scurry, the leaves continued to fall like heavy rain ... leaving me with the feelings of defeat. It was like building a sandcastle at the seashore. With each wave, a little more of your creation was knocked down by the strength of Mother Nature.  

When the leaves were finally out of the flower beds and front portion of the house, the pile stretched the entire length of the driveway. The side yard hadn’t been touched. That’s usually cut with the riding mower, re-mulching back into the soil. Each tarp-full of leaves that was dragged to the back field seemed heavier than the last. Arms and shoulders grew tired and sore. 

My mind began to wander with such thankless work ... things that normally don’t bother me soon felt like a tremendous thorn in my side. I had been bitten by a rather large, unknown insect, causing a numbing sensation in my leg. I had forgotten about a scheduled dental appointment and the gas can was completely empty. Adding insult to injury, earlier that morning I had dropped my cell phone in a sink full of water. Thinking of the expense of having to replace a new phone, yet again, was frustrating.  

All the wonderful teachings from my yoga classes that normally keep things in perspective?  “Practice non-reactivity”, “You’re exactly where you’re meant to be.”...blah, blah, blah... I was in an angry rut and all alone in my Sybil-like mentality.  Even Tuff, my devoted canine companion, wanted nothing to do with me.  

Suddenly, a red motorized chariot arrived ... with an attached mulcher.  As I was raking the endless maze of leaves onto the tarp, my neighbor came over and began cutting the side yard, saving me hours on my own riding mower and a trip to the gas station to refill an empty gas can. No words were spoken, only a big smile and a “thumbs-up” gesture.  Suddenly, the anger and frustration turned to humbling gratitude, then reflection. It still amazes me how we get so worked up over things, then something so simple presents itself and the negativity vanishes.  How fortunate I am having such wonderful neighbors to remind me of such things!  

In between the raking and humming of synchronized motors, a conversation seemed unnecessary.  We both knew a task was at hand. 

Autumn in New England is beautiful, but leaf duty just blows.  

Unless, of course, you have a chance encounter with a red motorized chariot. 

Christine October 29, 2012 at 11:47 AM
Super funny!! Loved this. We do have lovely neighbors, don't we?!
Tim October 29, 2012 at 01:13 PM
I get very religious this time of year and consider falling leaves as 'Gods mulch'. If He wants His mulch in my yard, so be it. Plus, in the fall is the time to lower the blade on the lawnmower so that the wind blows Gods mulch into your neighbors yard. That's the way it works here in beautiful Peace Dale RI

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