Everlasting Leaves

I’m lucky to live in an old house surrounded by trees—hollies, lindens, red oaks, weeping cherries, silver maples, pink dogwoods. I never fail to admire their changing beauty or to bask in their comforting shade.

But beware! Where there are trees, there are leaves, and come autumn, there will be the raking of the leaves. Everlasting leaves and endless raking of the leaves.

It’s an inescapable herculean chore which confounds me. After I rake the last leaf from the lawn, days later it’s cluttered again, a profusion of leaves smothering the grass like a thick patchwork quilt.

I purposely wait until November for this daunting task, when leaves are sparse on the skeletal branches.  You’d think most respectable leaves would have given up the ghost by then. But no—they’re resistant and slow to concede. Instead, they reproduce furiously like amorous fruit flies. For every leaf raked, I swear fifty more drift down and tumble to the ground from some perpetually replenishing supply.

As I survey the latest accumulation of foliage, I mutter to myself while I execute the drill. Retrieve rake. Pick up broom. Don gardening gloves. Drag rake across yard to collect newly scattered leaves. Sweep leaves strewn on sidewalk. Fill bags. Repeat incessantly.

If leaf-raking were an Olympic sport, surely I would win a gold medal (or a bronze one, depending on the leaf colors). In perseverance alone, I’d score a perfect 10.

What about leaf-blowers? I’ll pass. I find them noisy and disruptive. And don’t they recirculate dust into the atmosphere? Isn’t the air polluted enough with noxious particles?? (Covid-19, I’m talking to YOU!)

No, I’m a leaf-raker from way back, and though the job is as tedious as tabulating votes, it does have a few distinct perks.

Physical exertion is one. Back to that Olympic medal—I’m impressed by the calories I expend while raking leaves. According to my Fitbit, in five minutes of vigorous raking, I burn 20 calories. My heart rate also shoots up to 108 beats per minute. Not bad for a newly enrolled Medicare beneficiary.

Another bonus—the myriad objects I discover buried under the leaves. Errant golf balls. Buttons and dimes.  Functioning ballpoint pens. Stray golf tees. Tokens from the lost Dino Kingdom. Lego blocks from yesteryear.  (Did I mention I once found a harmonica?)

Plus, piles of leaves are fun for cavorting, especially for kids. When my son was a child, I recall the joys of jumping into heaps of leaves with him on crisp autumn days, pretending the neat little oval-shaped piles dotting the landscape were flying saucers from outer space.

In fact, my husband—forever young at heart—or recklessly immature—still plunges into leaf piles, covering himself to the hilt while exhorting me to ‘leave’ him alone.

Thanks to being blessed (cursed?) with trees encircling my home, each autumn I am assured of a constant color feast before my eyes—burnt orange to flaming red to fiery yellow—and I can also count on having multiple days for calorie-burning, treasure-hunting and leaf-diving while the leaves unendingly fall.

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