“You spend an awful lot of time agonizing over leaves,” Joe, my partner, said to me the other day as we drove around the neighborhood. His statement was in response to my noticing that some homeowners had bagged their leaves in plastic bags while others had bagged them in recyclable brown paper bags, which the township now requires.
Of course, I’m referring to leaves — what on earth were you thinking — because my yard is, once again, overrun with leaves — which is strange, since I have very vivid memories of autumn weekends with a rake. I’m positive I raked this yard a few months ago. In fact, I’ve written extensively about my love of raking, and the peace and nostalgia that this chore delivers.
But as I look out at a yard buried under as many leaves as I raked in the fall, I have decided that I am not a fan of spring raking. It’s bothersome and it gets in the way of what I really want to do, which is prepare the beds for actual gardening — not this maintenance stuff. I’ve waited through all of winter for this first warmish weekend to work outside — and raking is not on my list of things to do.
What has happened to raking?
I always remember raking as a communal event, one that involved most neighbors and all members of the family in some capacity. Give the neighbors a perfect autumn day, and they’ll give you one universal thought: “It’s cool and crisp and there isn’t a breeze – this is a perfect day for raking.”
I was all set to do a before and after photo spread, starting off with white and colored eggs in the spirit of the Easter holiday, and then segue into a series of photos about my pre- and post-Spring clean-up.
My raking , though, became more of an excavation as I uncovered plants that I hadn’t seen in some time — and my imagination kicked in. Suddenly, I was a space explorer hovering over an unchartered alien world, boldly going where no man had gone before. Or, in keeping with the season, I was Alice down the rabbit hole — and the garden grew curiouser and curiouser.
When I came to, I was back in my garden, rake in hand and surveying my work . . .
. . . still unsure about where I had been. But at least I have the photos to prove that it was a real place.
Happy Passover. Happy Easter.
There’s a scene in the film Roxanne, in which Steve Martin, playing a fire chief who is nasally challenged, steps outside, sniffs the air, and announces that there is a fire. That’s how it is with me when I decide on a good day to rake the leaves of autumn. Today was one such day.
When I walked outside, the air was crisp and still, the faintest hint of ice on the edges of the fallen leaves — a fine day to take my new rake out for a spin. After years of holding onto my ancient aluminum rake, the one with the head that always fell off, I purchased a new model from Home Depot.
You can keep those extra large plastic tined rakes. They seem to only rake the surface of the grass, never getting between the blades and down to the soil. No, for me, it’s all about the metal, and the one I chose had plenty of it. Black metallic tines. Sturdy. A green rubber grip on the end of the pole. It seemed to say, “Buy me, and I will rake your lawn like nobody’s business. We can make make magic together — just you and me and all those leaves.”
Now that we know each other, I feel it’s time for me to make a confession. I . . . Well, I did something I never did before. I contracted with a landscaper to do my spring clean up. Please, don’t judge me. I have my reasons.
I don’t have a large yard, but what I do have are lots of trees. And the property behind my house is not developed, so that means more trees. And the street where I live is actually a “T,” which means when the wind blows, all of the leaves from the intersecting block are deposited on my lawn. So my fall weekends are spent raking and bagging.
At this stage, I have a pretty good system. I use an old garbage can, put in a recyclable plastic bag, rake everything into a pile, knock the can onto its side, shove in the leaves, tie off the bag, carry it to the curb, and start all over again. I can do that 40 times each weekend.
Then, spring arrives, and it’s a cruel joke. After the snow melts, there are still more leaves to be raked. They blew into my yard all winter long when I wasn’t looking. My partner, Joe, is always after me to hire someone to rake up the yard. But I take my stand. I convince him, as well as myself, that I love to rake and clean the yard. Continue reading