Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Damned leaf raking wimps

It’s fall, and roving gangs of young men with gasoline-powered blowers have descended upon the neighborhood to blow the leaves out of some of the neighbor’s yards. They work quickly and efficiently, six-to-ten-to-a-crew. They rev their engines high for ten minutes or so, then they move on, leaving my neighbor’s yard clean, my yard full of leaves—and my heart full of conflicting emotions.

I admire their youth and their industry. For young men with gasoline powered blowers and the will to work, money must seem to be falling from the sky this time of year. If I were young, I’d be out there gunning my engine right along with them.

But peeking through the living room drapes, watching the crew next door work, I can sense past generations of leaf raking Minnesotans looking over my shoulder and shaking their heads in disgust.

Not raking your own yard. Phooey. It’s just plain un-Minnesotan. How were you raised\ for crying out loud?

Raking your yard is your last chance to get in some good, old-fashioned, contemplative yard work before the snow flies—a chance to assess not just the state of your lawn and flower beds, but the state of your mind as well.

You can do a lot of reflecting on the business end of a rake. The scratch of the tines, the cascading sound of the leaves, and the smell of autumn on the air… It will help you get right with the world

It’s humbling-yet-affirming work. It builds character, provided you stick to it.

A friend of mine who lives in the Chippewa National Forest up near Walker tells me he raked himself to a standstill the other day. He just couldn’t shake the idea that the trees had him outnumbered and surrounded. So he gave up. He went in, had a peanut butter sandwich, and took a nap. The leaf piles in his yard will be there until spring.

Not me. Nossir. I’ll show those roving gangs of leaf blowing young men and the neighbors who hire them. I’ll get out there and rake my own yard myself. I’ll stick to it , too. Until every last leaf is gone, It’s good work. It’s Minnesota work. It will do my Minnesota heart and soul good.