Each year it’s a given that the leaves change colors and fall to the ground. It’s part of a perpetual cycle that lets us know that summer is transitioning into winter. It also reminds us of just how many leaves those huge trees have. As I walked Sacha recently it was apparent the height of that transition is upon us. Many yards were blanketed with the leaves of fall or is that the falling leaves?
This always brings back fond memories from my childhood, not of the hours of raking and callus riddled hands but of frolicking in the piles and the warmth of a leaf fueled bonfire. Not only did those fires provide warmth on a brisk evening, they also seemed to catch a shed or garage on fire every couple years around town, which was pretty exciting. We would pile the leaves up about as tall as we were at the base of a tree, then climb up and take turns playing paratrooper into them. Hopefully my kids hold the same fond memories I do of Autumn and more importantly, that they have forgot the year we found out that the dogs had gone to the bathroom in our piles… a lot. That was not a fun afternoon.
This trip down memory lane got me thinking that homeowners fall into a number of different groups based on how they manage their yearly abundance of fallen fall foliage. I would go one step further and say that the way a person handles their leaves says a lot about how they handle their lives. Here are the groups I can think of but I am sure you might come up with a few others.
Leaf Allocation Socio-Groups:
Bagger Gatherer – These people are annoying in their perfection. They meticulously capture and detain every single leaf. I have even seen them proactively blowing still clinging leaves out of the trees. They make the rest of us look bad and I can only imagine how much cleaner their house is than ours. It is quite frustrating really.
Random Pile Placer – You’ll recognize this yard by its erratically placed piles of leaves. They are almost as thorough as the “Baggers” but possibly lacking the focus to finish. Often passerby’s will stare in awe wondering why someone would go to that much work and then just stop. The piles often remain in place until spring and sometimes provide shelter for random wildlife.
Opportunist – This person has spent years monitoring and tracking the wind currents in their yard. They know the precise location and wind speed needed to “share” their leaves with their unsuspecting neighbors. Sometimes after catching the ten o’clock weather forecast they run to the yard in their PJ’s, rake in hand and move the leaves strategically so they are displaced in the wee morning hours so no one is the wiser.
Naturalist – Maybe you would call people in this group free spirits or hippies or lazy. They choose to let the leaves lie where they fell. Maybe they will tell you that Mother Nature has a cycle and everything is done with intention. Or possibly the handle of their rake was broken because they left it in the driveway and their son got home late one night and wasn’t paying attention….. I mean maybe something like that could happen.
Barrel Burner – These folks are a dying breed, mostly because municipalities have so many darn regulations about in burning in town all because a few errant fires. If you look hard you’ll still find them though. Generally you can l scan the sky for smoke. If you see something that looks like a tire factory caught fire you’re on the right track. Just pray your car windows are up if a nice gust of wind hits their ash pile.
Deforester – This person in just plain fed up with trees of any sort. Trees are chopped, sectioned and chipped within weeks of them moving in. Oddly enough these people don’t seem to have a lot of visitors but if a passerby happens to comment on the disappearance of the trees they are likely to get an earful about spiky gum balls and suffocated grass. It is best to keep your distance.
Maniac Mulcher – I must say this is usually a male dominated category. They like to wait until the leaves are as crisp as they can get. They don their goggles and ventilator mask and mow over the leaves in an inward circling pattern. This is repeated until all the leaf confetti is centralized. They then make numerous passes to pulverize the remains to dust. From a distance it would appear that a helicopter is landing on a baseball diamond. When they pull out of the dust storm and take off their protective gear you can only see the whites of their eyes and teeth as they look back smiling at their dusty demolition.
Blower – I have saved the most deplorable group for last and if you to be a member I pray that a weird funnel cloud deposits all the leaves from your block in your yard. These people use their blower to chase all of the leaves from their yard into the street, where they are passed on down the road. If you catch them in the act they just give you a smug look as if to say, “What are you going to do about it?” I have often toyed with the idea of visiting these folks late at night with bags of pre gathered leaves. I would approach the house quietly and then dump them all on their front porch. Unfortunately my need for sleep is greater that my desire for societal revenge not to mention my hands are far to smooth for that kind of effort.
That’s what’s great about this country I guess. We might not agree on politics. Some of us might not even be tolerant of opposing views but we all handle our leaves a little differently and it seems to work out just fine. Except for that last group. If we could kick you out of our leafy utopia, trust me you’d be out.