Like many of my neighbors, I spent a good portion of yesterday raking leaves. With a good sized yard and plenty of trees, that becomes a complex operation but this year the leaves seem to be clinging to the trees later than usual, so we’ve had plenty of practice. Hopefully, we can now retire the rake for the season before breaking out the snow shovel.
Although it’s a bit labor intensive, my method of leaf disposal is to rake them into piles, run the lawn mower through the piles to pulverize the leaves, rake the fragments again, and then shovel them into large paper “yard waste” bags. What would be five bags of intact leaves are thereby reduced to one. Even so, yesterday’s yield was still 39 bags.
As the lawn mower roared through the piles, they emitted a distinct woodsy odor. That, in turn, brought back memories of the smell of burning leaves which, while rare today, were a constant presence in my youth. The smell of burning leaves is one small slice of our New England cultural heritage that’s foreign to anyone below the age of 30. While I understand the pollution-control reasons for not burning leaves, it would be nice to have some communal type event that featured the lost smells, sights and experiences of Fall.
While this post was occasioned by nostalgia, I did have an entirely new experience while composing it. Needing a photo of full leaf bags, I ventured out with my camera and spotted a squirrel who didn’t immediately flee when he saw me. He just squatted there at the base of a tree while I took my pictures. Suddenly, high above in an adjacent tree there was a loud crashing sound. I looked up, thinking a branch had broken off, and saw two enormous hawks flying away. My photography had aborted their breakfast plans. The appreciative squirrel (below) scampered up to a low limb and chirped a relieved tune.