Monday, November 9, 2009

Raking Leaves

Phyllis Diller once said, “Cleaning the house while the kids are still growing is like shoveling the walk before it stops snowing.” Ditto on raking the yard before the leaves quit falling. I’ve taken three approaches to leaf management in my day. At first I did what is commonly known as “nothing.” After the multihued lovelies fell, I simply prayed for their rapid decomposition. This prayer was answered by the grass which decomposed instead.

My second approach was to pay a guy to de-leaf my yard with an earsplitting blower. Apparently all loud equipment is most efficient when operated early Saturday morning, right below the bedrooms of people who are sleeping only because they paid someone else to run the loud machines.

So one year I tried approach number three, employing that four-letter word of “rake.” I used one that was left in my basement by the previous homeowners. Judging from its condition, it had been used as a weapon in the Revolutionary War. With its splintered handle and wildly crooked prongs, I guided the desiccated intruders into piles, while my dog leapt around efficiently disseminating them.

I know you can make mulch from dearly departed leaves. Sorry, but I am just not a mulch-maker. So I painstakingly loaded up leaf bags, compacting the refuse with both feet. I even had fun conducting a one-woman potato sack race, which I almost won. This only took about an hour, give or take six, including dragging the leaf bags weighing more than I do out to the curb. But it was done, and my lawn looked like springtime. I looked like hell.

Next morning I was one huge hand blister and muscle ache. So I took it easy for a few days. When I next ventured into my backyard, believe it or not, more leaves had fallen! For crying out loud, I wailed, who's in charge here? Nature? Something must be done. Notably, another raking – but this time sans bags. I just marshaled the leaves toward a back corner of my yard, a mysterious corner that I never liked to talk about. It was a patch that yielded thick ferns for half the year and for the rest sported various alchemic stages of petrified vegetation. I tried never to get too close for fear that some sort of spontaneously generated homunculus would reach out and pull me in for feeding.

The next year, whaddya know, the ferns still shot up. But I’m still looking for an alternative to the odious task of raking. One idea is to have a leaf-raking party – you know, like a painting party. My pals could clean up the mess while I cook them my most magnificent autumnal feast. An afternoon of raking would surely be a pittance to pay in exchange for my fine cuisine.

Do you think people would mind a menu of spicy leaf rolls with crushed leaf sauce, leaf sauté with branch bits, and a dessert of warm leaf pudding?

Guess I’d better take out that damned rake.