We’re considering purchasing some sort of blowing / sucking / mulching / bagging contraption this fall. If you’ve seen our house and multiple yards, this decision seems pretty much a no-brainer. But as much as I fret about needing to rake, I just can’t bring myself to consent to another (incredibly loud) machine that must be plugged in and maintenanced and serviced.

Did I say we have a lot of leaves? I’ve collected over twenty-five bags-full already, and maybe we’re half through. Maybe. This afternoon I was cracking myself up. Our neighbor across the street hired a crew to blow-mow-mulch his yard. Only, I’m not sure why. His lawn looks immaculate, at least by my standards. Here I was, with my twenty odd little (and not so little) bonfire piles, raking my little heart out while G slept. I offered a farmer’s wave to one of the guys as he moved his massive mower up the ramp. Was it my imagination? Was he smirking? Maybe not smirking, but he definitely looked amused. And really, who rakes anymore? Who bags? He had reason to be. I was just waiting for him to amble across the street with a line like, “You know, we do leaf removal.” My comeback: “Yeah, I get that a lot.”

But is there a more seemingly pointless task then raking leaves? Even before you’re ready to bag them, new leaves have fallen. There’s no such thing as a leaf-free lawn. And who cares? Our maples (and our neighbors’ maples, which all seem to end up in our yard) are beautiful–yellow golds and fire orange reds. If a frost doesn’t hit them wrong, the sweet gum foliage has a vibrant yellow center that shifts to deep red at the edges. The trouble mostly comes when the blanket gets too heavy and wet. The trouble also comes from living in a neighborhood with pretty high standards, which I mostly enjoy the benefits of. The trouble is, I care. So I rake.

Today I kept thinking about the desert father who spent each day weaving baskets that he would unweave at day’s end. I was trying to get into the Zen of it all. To think a little about my own mortality and my dour attitude toward non-preferred tasks. I enjoyed the fluid groove of pulling and gathering until I realized the entire right side of my body was aching and I was developing a blister between my thumb and index finger (poor scooping technique). I concluded that raking is the perfect therapy for a perfectionist. My new, and quite healthy, philosophy (if I do say so myself): quit complaining and move along. Tomorrow, figure a way to mow with the little man and his healthy, if not always cautious, fascination with all things machine.

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