Who needs a rake on a windy day?


As my front yard fills with leaves this time of year, it always makes me think back to “fall” when I was growing up in Arizona.

It was that time of year when the temperature would finally drop below 100 degrees. At times, it could get almost what you would consider cool at night. And it was the one time a year we could use a rake.

That is something you don’t know about Arizona – a yard rake can last you most of your life. You use it one day a year for about 10 minutes, so if you store it in a place out of the sun it will last decades.

But in the fall, my dad would have us go out and rake up the leaves. Besides palm trees, which don’t drop leaves in the fall because they don’t have any, we had mulberry trees. We had two in the front yard and one in the back.

We planted those trees in the late 1960s, and the last time I saw them a few years ago, they were not quite 20 feet tall. So when I was a kid, they were 8-10-foot-tall trees. So it took more time to complain about raking, getting yelled at for being lazy and finally dragging the rake out to the front yard as slowly as possible than it did to actually rake up the leaves.

The only other seasonal activity we had was to cover the pool. We didn’t have a fancy automatic cover. No, we had a huge piece of plastic and some bricks to keep the cover in place.

Raking, pool cover. Done.

That is not the case for me anymore. Oh, no. One of the things I loved about the house we bought in Rockford was all of the trees on the property. They are everywhere and they are quite beautiful – well, until they die and fall and I have to use my poor/verging on dangerous chainsaw skills to cut them up.

The trees offer wonderful shade in the summer. But in the fall, they create enough work for an army of landscapers. Sadly, there is only me, and I am not exactly Mr. Work Around the House.

But I have to do something about the 10 billion or so leaves that fall on our property every year. So, I have a five-point plan:

  1. Complain about all of those leaves, repeatedly and loudly for days on end.
  2. Talk about buying a new rake and getting serious about it. This year I will rake up 600 giant piles of leaves and bag them all! I promise!
  3. Get out my old rake and make a half-hearted attempt to tame the leaves, before giving up in disgust. Then I grab my blower and shoot the leaves around the yard before realizing this, too, is useless.
  4. I let the wind do much of the work for me, giving my neighbor’s hate for me a chance to grow.
  5. I finally get out my riding lawnmower and mulch all of the leaves, screaming with glee as I get covered with leaf dust while my wife stares out the window at me shaking her head.

You would think by now that I would just skip to No. 5, but no. I am currently between step 2 and step 3.

Finally, I have to switch out the screens for our storm windows. And to be honest, I do this one without much complaint. It is easy to do, and I have found that my incredibly patient wife will lose it if I complain daily about the leaves and then start complaining about the windows.

In short, I am now at an age that I know when the shut up. About the windows, but those leaves? Forget about it.