Sunday, October 31, 2010

The Joy of Raking Leaves

There's no denying the truth of what's going on outside of my office window.  There are more leaves down on the ground now than there are up on the trees.  Heaps more.  It's time to get out there and start raking them.  A lot of people whom I know groan at the prospect of having to take care of their leaves.  They consider it an onerous chore.  Some of them even pay other people to do it for them.

Not me.  I look forward to it.

I love to rake leaves.  I love romping in them.  I love the smell of them.  I love holding them in my hands.  I'm an absolute nut when it comes to dead leaves.  They're one of the reasons why I moved to New England from Los Angeles (with a twelve-year layover in New York City).  Truly, nothing makes me happier than being outside on a crisp, sunny fall afternoon with a rake in my hands.

Mind you, my approach to the job is different from that of a lot of other people.  For starters, I'm not disposing of them.  I'm gathering them.  Diana has a vast complex of wire compost bins out back where I deposit them.  Today's leaves will be next year's nutritious mulch for our planting beds.

Plus I'm not a perfectionist when it comes clearing my property of fallen leaves.  Anything but.  I let plenty of them stay right where they are in the flower beds all winter long just like nature intended.  And the lawn? Forget about it.  The lawn is never completely clear of leaves.  Why should it be? It's not my living room rug.  It's outside.  I don't understand this fetish that a lot of guys have about forcibly removing every single fallen leaf from every blade of grass.  And I really, really don't understand those stupid leaf blowers that they use.  I actively detest leaf blowers.  They pollute the air with gas fumes and they are absolutely deafening.  Have you ever noticed that the guy who's standing there using one always has ear muffs on? Dude, how about some ear muffs for the rest of us? Better yet, how about you get rid of that whiny, stinky thing and use a rake?

No chance of that.  For a lot of guys a mere rake won't do.  They must, must get every single leaf off of their precious lawn.   That's another thing I don't understand -- guys and their lawns.  We're talking about a creepifyingly intimate form of attachment here.  We're talking about someone fertilizing the grass to make it  grow faster so that he has to -- or I should say gets to -- mow it more often.  Does that make any sense to you?  Why would someone want to mow the lawn more often than he has to? A lot of guys are also into this whole ethnic cleansing thing when it comes to what kind of grass they're growing.  They dump toxic herbicides and pesticides all over their very own property just so they can eradicate everything but the one perfect species of perfect grass that they yearn for.  Then they water it and water it so as to make sure it's an absolutely perfect emerald green all summer long.  I swear, they're more devoted to their lawns than they are to their wives.  Hmm...maybe we'd better not go there.  Forget I said anything.

My lawn must have eight or ten different kind of grass growing in it.  There may even be some terrorist weeds in it.  Actually, I don't actually think of my lawn as grass.  I think of it as Assorted Field Greens.  I can't remember the last time I fertilized it or did anything to it.  It's green.  It grows.  Once every week or two, depending on how much rainfall we get, one of us gets out our non-motorized push mower and mows it.  The job takes fifteen minutes.  That's my entire relationship with my lawn.  I doubt whether I give it more than five minutes of continuous thought over the course of an entire year.

I can think of a million things rather do with my time than mow my lawn.  I'm doing one of them right now.  Or I was.  Done now.


  1. David,

    I'm not really surprised that we have similar perspectives on lawns... and, happily, today was my day for savoring the Joy of Raking Leaves (Part I). 1 rake, 1 wheelbarrow, 1 hr, and 1 determined woman: now the front yard=leafless (or at least as close to being so as I care to get it). Back patio will be another day. Anything else is optional, in my eyes. We are so fortunate to love our lives so much, aren't we? I feel for those who don't savor their time playing in leaves, but I also agree that I don't need to do it weekend after weekend. Once per area is plenty. Everything in moderation, after all (yes, there are exceptions, but that's another conversation).



  2. As usual, I'm way behind on your blog. This ode to dead leaves is wonderful, and not just because I agree with every word! I am surrounded by leafless, manicured lawns. The neighbors are appalled at the mounds of leaves in my flower beds and on my lawn. I'm not great with the snow either. I shovel just enough to navigate my way to the door. I know they all want me to just move away:-)