Gentlemen, Start Your Leaf Blowers

As the autumn leaves begin to fall, one homeowner contemplates the Zen of raking

Skritch, skritch…

To me, that’s the sound of autumn. Raking the fallen leaves into neat piles on the lawn.

Skritch, skritch…

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It’s the perfect chore. The temperature is pleasant; I’m not breaking a sweat or freezing. I’m accomplishing something, yet not working too hard. My only supervisor is the dog, and he’s more concerned about finding the ideal sleep position than the pace of my work.

Skritch, skritch…

The sound becomes my mantra. Like the leaves falling to the ground, my thoughts drift lazily through topics ranging from what my uniform number would be if I played for the Yankees (77 would be cool) to what the meaning of life is (still working on that one). All is peaceful; life is good.

Can you see where this is going? If not, go back and read the headline. Then this will make more sense:


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My thoughts are no longer drifting with the leaves — they’ve been blasted away by the neighbor’s leaf blower.

I realize that there are homeowners lucky enough to own large pieces of property, making it impossible to manually rake their lawns. I don’t live in that neighborhood. On my street, an able-bodied fellow with a good old-fashioned rake can (quietly) have the yard looking spiffy in less than 90 minutes, without waking babies or my dog. Is it really necessary to make it sound like we live on pit row during the Indy 500 in order to finish sooner than that?

Now you might say, “Frank, you hypocrite! I see you using a noisy lawn mower in the summer. I see you using a noisy snowblower in the winter.” (To which I would reply, “Who are you, and why are you spending so much time watching me? That’s creepy.”) But there is a difference. Pushing a lawn mower around the yard in the August heat and shoveling a half-ton of snow on a freezing February morning are both very strenuous activities, and I ain’t a kid anymore. I’ve got to clear the driveway of snow so I can get to work. And if the grass gets too long, the ticks will use my yard for an open-air concert. The sooner these chores are accomplished, the better; the noisy labor-saving devices are necessary evils in completing these tasks quickly.

But there’s no need to hurry when you’re raking the leaves. If you don’t have time to rake them today, wait till tomorrow; there’ll probably be more of them. Then you can make a really big pile for the kids to jump into — now that’s fun close to home, and cheaper than a theme park. Leaf-raking is an activity that should be savored. Autumn leaves don’t weigh much, so it’s not backbreaking work. They’re colorful, they smell good, they make a nice crunchy noise when stepped on — it’s a treat for all the senses. So why rush what can be one of life’s simple pleasures? Slow down; clear your mind…

The leaf blower stops. I can hear my rake against the leaves again.

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Skritch, skritch…

The dog puts his head back down and goes to sleep.

Skritch, skritch…

Thoughts begin to drift once more.

Skritch, skritch…

Now batting for the Yankees, number 77…


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