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Blowing Leaves

IMG_0913Blowing leaves. It’s a chore I like and that’s a good thing since Husband and I live in the woods. I like the earth smell. I like being outside on crisp, cool, sunny days. And blowing leaves from our driveway and yard gives me thinking time. My mind wanders.

The squirrels’ storehouses must be full. There’s a multitude of acorn caps around the oak trees, and the ground is littered with fragments of shells and hulls under hickory trees. Those furry little critters have really strong jaws and teeth to break hickory nuts for such a meager amount of meat inside.

This would be a good year to make Christmas tree ornaments using the balls from the sweetgum trees. Wonder if my Grands would think it was as much fun as I did when I was a kid? I sprayed gold paint on the spiky balls gold and sprinkled multi-colored glitter on them. Anything with glitter is fun.

Leaf blowing vs. raking. Blowing is much easier and gets the job done faster, but probably doesn’t burn nearly as many calories. (I looked this up. Based on my weight, raking leaves burns about 250 calories per hour and blowing, about 200.) Blowing makes a loud noise; raking, only the rustling sound of the leaves.

My green furry earmuffs, which I wear to muffle the loud noise of the electric leaf blower and to keep my ears warm, are ugly. I’ve had them since I was about ten years old and they still fit.

People have said to me, “Oh, you live in the woods? Then you don’t have yard work.” They’ve never picked up sticks and twigs after a storm. Or removed leaves from their driveway twice a week from mid-September through December. Or done the whole yard at least five times. They’ve never lived in the woods.

How can a sycamore leaf be as big as a platter? All the trees have produced a bumper crop of leaves this year – more and bigger. And the fall leaf colors have never been brighter. Yellow maples, orange-red and brown oaks, red sweet gums and dogwoods, spotted brown sycamores, yellow and brown hickories.

I’m thankful that I can walk and carry a leaf blower. I’m thankful that our two oldest Grands are willing to help rake and blow leaves and pick up sticks. They don’t have to bend far to get the sticks. I love when one says, “When is it my turn to blow leaves?” and I’m glad to pay them for their work.

I hate winding up the 100-foot extension cord on the storage reel. It takes three minutes; I’d rather continue blowing leaves for another half hour.   As I begin winding the cord around the slick plastic reel the cord slips and won’t stay put, and then I always scrap my knuckles on something while turning the handle. I tell myself that putting away the tools is part of the job.

Leaves continue to fall during the two hours that I’ve been blowing leaves from under shrubs and to clear the driveway. I look up. From the very top of a huge oak tree, one single leaf drifts over my head and lands at my feet. I’ll get it next time.

























Tis’ the Season for Leaves

fall-leaves Tis’ the season for leaves.  Those beautiful yellow and red and orange leaves that light up Tennessee mountains.  Those beautiful leaves that fall to the ground.   Those leaves that aren’t so beautiful when they cover my yard and deck and driveway.  Especially when it rains.

I love living in the woods.  I love to watch tiny buds burst into leaves in the springtime, and I love the comfort of a shade tree.  And nothing in nature is prettier than the colors of autumn.  But when leaves begin to fall from trees, they spell work.

Almost thirty years ago, Husband and I built a house in the woods.  Through the years, we’ve lost trees to disease and storms, but it seems that each year our trees produce more and bigger foliage than the year before.  We’ve used every method to remove leaves.  Raked, mowed, and blown.  When our children lived at home, we ‘did leaves’ as a family undertaking, and now we usually, and happily, hire out the job.  Some people say to let all the leaves fall and then get rid of them one time.  Well, if we tried that, we’d be up to our eyeballs in leaves.  At least, up to our knees.   Someone will have to blow or rake the leaves in our yard at least three times between now and December.

Early in our marriage Husband assumed the responsibility of yard care, but because I’m the one who loves living in the woods (he’d be happy in a walk-up apartment) and we need to see where to drive, I try to keep the driveway leaf free.  I haul out my electric leaf blower, a 100-foot extension cord, and a rake.  I spend as much time untangling that long extension cord and moving it from an outlet on the front porch to a basement outlet as I do blowing leaves.  And I use a rake where I can’t reach with the blower.  Two hours later, I can see pea gravel and concrete once again.

The next day, leaves litter the driveway.  By the second day, especially if there’s been breeze, even a mild southerly breeze, I can’t walk the length of our driveway and not step on leaves.  Time to haul out the leaf blower.

Last week, my oldest Grand, age 8, made my heart quicken.  “Gran, can I blow the leaves?” he asked.  Can he?  How fast?  As quickly as I could get him to my house.  He carried the leaf blower, and I lugged the extension cord.  I gave directions on how to hold the leaf blower and which way to blow – straight into the wooded yard area designated for leaves.  We pulled on gloves; he covered his ears with hearing protectors.  I began taking wet leaves that were stuck under shrubs, and he stood holding the silent leaf blower in hand.  “One more thing, Gran,” Samuel said.  “Are you going to pay me?”

My Grand says he’s saving money to buy a Lego set.  He’ll have enough money soon.  There’s plenty of work for this boy.