Leaf Wars

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It's that time of year again.

I live in a neighborhood of mostly retired couples who have little more to do than putter around their yards.

Some are completely obsessive, mowing their lawns every 4 or 5 days whether it's needed or not.

Now come the leaf wars.

What did the leaf ever do to deserve such disrespect? After nurturing a tree for an entire season, and providing shade for anyone passing underneath, the leaf begins to die, and offers one of nature's most spectacular color displays.

But the problem in my neighborhood is when the leaves begin to fall on those neatly manicured lawns.

Nobody owns a rake anymore. No, the evil leaf needs to be banished with the most obnoxious machine ever devised by man - the leaf blower.
What demonic force possesses someone to do the gardening using gear with an engine big enough to run the electricity grid of a small African country?...The sustained boom in high-powered gardening equipment has sparked a disease in the psyche of suburbs where the grass is always greener on the other side, and jealousy and one-upmanship turn normal men into obsessive-compulsive idiots.
My wife and I were watching TV after dinner and suddenly it sounded like a 747 was landing in out back yard. I rushed outside to find my neighbor with a jet engine strapped to her back, attached to a long snout that was blasting her leaves towards the street, and she was wearing ear protectors! I respectfully reminded her that she was in clear violation of our local noise ordinance, and while I was not going to complain, it was inevitable that one of the local retirees would pick up the phone and call the police. She grumbled a little, but I think she knew how incredibly rude her screaming machine really was.

You have to understand my neighbors. If there is a stray dog running around, it's not long before a police car arrives to arrest the offending canine. One elderly gentleman sits on his front porch all day, any time of year, just watching anything and everything. This is absolutely 100% the truth - you can see him clearly on Google street view nailed to his lawn chair.

But back to the leaves.

Another neighbor uses her leaf blower every two days in the autumn. Even if there are only 12 1/2 leaves on her lawn, they are clearly not welcome and must be blown away. The leaves are rounded up and placed into neat little piles in the street gutter, where city sucking machines come around weekly and slurp them up.

Whatever happened to mulching?

OK, I have to do something with my leaves, too. You can't live in this neighborhood with a blanket of leaves on your lawn. People will think you are crazy, or perhaps dead.

So I pick up that old rake and do it the old fashioned way. It doesn't really take any longer than using a leaf blower, and I get some good exercise.

When I was a kid we would rake the leaves into huge piles and spend the afternoon jumping into them. Then we would call the local fire department for a verbal permit, and would set the leaves on fire. It was a glorious smell filling the air. People would burn their lawns, too, as a means to remove thatch and leaves, and stimulate new growth. For obvious reasons in crowded suburbia, burning of leaves and lawns has been long since outlawed.

So hopefully the day will come soon when leaf blowers are assigned to the ash heap of history. Something tells me that people will not look back fondly on their blower memories.

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