The Rites of Autumn


There was no mistaking that sound.

First, the laboring drone of turbine engines coming lower and closer. Then the ear-splitting crescendo of reverse thrusters struggling to halt the momentum of 50 tons of people and aircraft.

The windows began to rattle.

Wait. We’re not that close to the airport.

It was just my neighbor cranking up his leaf blower.

From the first stray leaf that hits the ground in September, he’s out there raising heck with nature. That thing could produce hurricane-force winds and with one pass, blow all his leaves from the backyard, to the street.

The only time he works up a sweat is while struggling to don the four-point backpack harness.

“The only downside” he said, “is a slight case of hearing loss” and the occasional threat from the guy next door who works nights.

Being a leaf raking purist, I make the annual trek to the yard, first with the ash leaves, then the maples and finally, sometimes lost to the first snow-the red oaks will shed their plumage.

That’s what you get with a small forest in the backyard.

I like the solitude, the crisp fall air and  the exercise. Sometimes I even get a little sympathy and a back rub for the aching muscles.

Truth be told, my wife bought one of those obnoxious carbon belching things a couple  years ago. She uses it around the flower gardens, pond and patio while I continue to maintain the notion that  leaves should be raked.

Until the other day.

I went outside to enjoy the unseasonably warm weather and noticed that the city crews had winnowed all the neighbors’ leaves up and down the street, ready to be baled and picked up.

It was noon so while the workers were on lunch I took up the challenge to clean up our leaves before they  returned.

Yup, I fired up the blower. This one, not even close to the horsepower of the neighbor’s, more like the Piper Cub of leaf blowers. But it worked, and worked well.

In the time it takes to write 400 words (including spellcheck) I had chased half the leaves from a crimson maple into the street to join all the others.

When the rest fall, I’ll blow those out to the curb as well. Probably get it done during halftime.

Like Will Smith in ‘Independence Day’ I had decided, “I gotta get me one of these.”

Next year, it’s the turbo model. A 58.2cc 215 mph, 510 cfm backpack gas blower with hip throttle.

I’ll commune with nature-from the hammock.

The Green Bay Press Gazette ‘Today’s Take’, 11/28/2015


One thought on “The Rites of Autumn”

Leave a Reply