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Charlie Hatton
Brookline, MA

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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
If you're a science and/or silliness fan, give it a gander! See you soon!

Turning Over a New Leaf… and Ten Thousand of Its Closest Friends

Ah, the joys of owning a home. Or in this case, a yard.

I don’t remember buying a house in the middle of a fricking forest, but that must be what happened. How else could we end up with dead leaves a foot deep in the back yard? I went back there yesterday to rake them up, and could barely wade through the damned things. We lost the dog for a while — we had to strap a snorkel to her ass, so we could see the breathing tube sticking up out of the leaf piles.

(Which worked out okay until she started farting. Not only did it tootle out the top like a train whistle, but it seems to have permanently fogged up the mask.

Yeah, I think I’m done with scuba for a while. Ick.)

Anyway, I raked myself a path out to the middle of the yard, and went to work. And work, and work, and more work. Honestly, I think the bastards around us must have raked their yards, and dumped all their shit into ours. While we were sleeping, maybe, or… um, at work. It could happen. And then they… uh, smoothed them all out, to make an even layer, so no one would suspect. Yes, I’m sure that’s what they did. Now all I’ve got to do is prove it, or at least keep them from coming back. Bear traps and land mines ought to do the trick.

(Hey, it worked so well for the gopher problem we used to have, that’s how I solve all our yard-related problems now. Bear traps and land mines have gotten rid of skunks, and ants, and most of the weeds in the yard. Well, okay, to be fair, they took out a lot of the flowers, too… not to mention the left side of the porch. Still, I think it’s been worth the effort.

Of course, we do go through an awful lot of mailmen. I guess we should probably put up warning signs or something. Or at least stop leaving traps in the mailbox. But you never know where those pesky ants are going to crawl. You can never be too careful.)

But all of that didn’t help me with the leaves I already had. And believe me, I tried. I set up a chain of firecrackers, hoping to burn the leaves away. In hindsight, I suppose I should have realized that was a bad idea. All I got was a bunch of ‘leafetti’ raining down on my head. Oh, and I managed to catch the grill on fire. And while fire in a grill is good, bright yellow flames burning the hell out of the outside of the grill are generally not what you want.

So, I put the fire out. But our grill is now a nice golden brown. In a pinch, I might throw it on a roll and try to eat it. Bitches.

Anyway, I finally bit the bullet and got to work on the leaves. Now, don’t get the wrong idea, either. I didn’t use any of those newfangled, fancy-shmancy modern lawn tools. I’m a traditionalist, folks. I’m a throwback. ‘Old-school‘, I think the kids call it.

In other words, I’m poor. You see, actually owning some green space within twenty miles of Boston doesn’t leave you with much ‘green space’ in the old wallet to put towards lawn maintenance. So we make do with the tools our parents, and grandparents, and Neanderthal ancestors, used. We’ve got a rake, and a shovel, and a pack of leaf bags. That’s pretty much it.

(Well, to be honest, we did save up our money and buy a lawnmower this summer, too. Which was a relief — clipping the lawn with a pair of scissors was getting pretty damned old. I was considering just dumping peanut butter all over the yard and letting the dog do the work for us. That’s when my wife suggested the lawnmower. She always has such good ideas.)

So I went at it with the rake, and after a couple of hours, I had two chest-high piles of leaves. But that wasn’t the truly onerous part. Oh, no — not by a longshot. The bagging is ten times harder than the raking.

(Bagging’s always the hardest part of anything. Ask a hunter, or maybe a coroner. Or even a horny teenager; they know. They wish they did, anyway.)

Luckily, though, I had some help. My wife came out for a little bagging party. (Yeah, I’m gonna leave that one alone. Think what you want.) And soon enough, we had several big-ass bags full of leaves and stored under the porch. That’s when I took a good look around the yard, and recoiled in horror at what I saw.

It wasn’t the ground that concerned me — oh, there were still a few leaves here and there, littered on the lawn like drunken frat boys after a kegger. (Sorry, we’re in New England. That’s keggah. A wicked pissah keggah!) And the grill was still smoldering. But I was over that already. No, what really got my knickers in a twist was what I saw on the trees — all the damned trees lining the properties around us still had loads of leaves! Thousands of the little bastards, just waiting to die and drop onto my property. How fucking rude!

(Look, you don’t see me dying and dragging myself into their tree trunks, or draping myself on their branches, now, do you? No. It’s just common courtesy. You’d think these damned leaves would get with the program already.)

That’s when I realized that the circle of back-breaking yard work is never-ending. As soon as you’re done with one batch of Nature’s little tree turds, another round starts plopping down onto your shit. And then you’ve got to rake those. And over, and over, until the snow falls, and then you’ve got to shovel that shit up. In the spring, there’s apparently something called ‘planting’, or ‘seeding’. Sounds hard. And then you mow the grass all summer, until before you know it, you’re back to the damned leaves! Shit! Who’s idea was this ‘yard’ thing, anyway? Can I just pave over the thing and be done with it? It’s not like I’m gonna grow frigging wheat out there — so why the hell do I have to bother with it?

Eh, this sucks. But maybe I’ll get lucky this year. Hell, it’s already mid-November, and this is New England — the blizzards should be starting any day now. Maybe those leaves that are left will get caught by surprise, and get flash-frozen right on their nasty little stalks. They can sit there freezing on the trees for all I give a damn. Just so long as I don’t have to deal with them.

But what if they do fall? What then? Well, I’m not bagging the little fuckers, I’ll tell you that. Once a year is enough. I’ll rake ’em if I have to, but that’s it. I’ll just leave the pile there for the winter, like some sort of leafery burial ground. That’ll teach the bastards to keel over on my lawn. I have a policy on my property — if you die there, then you’d damned well better be sure to drag your carcass away before I find it. Or have it dragged for you, ’cause I’m not likely to do it. And we’ve got the remains of our gopher friends out there to prove it.

(The mailmen, we cleaned up — all those letters and catalogs were clogging up the drainpipes.)

Anyway, I’ve got my fingers crossed that I’m done with leaves this year, but it doesn’t look good. Another couple of weeks without snow, and I’ll be up to my ass again in dead tree parts. The neighbors better hope that doesn’t happen. ‘Cause next time, my leaves are getting dumped in their yards. Yeah, baby — payback is a bitch. I’m onto you people, do you hear me? I’m onto you!

Permalink  |  5 Comments

5 Responses to “Turning Over a New Leaf… and Ten Thousand of Its Closest Friends”

  1. Lara says:

    Leaves will turn into mulch which will in turn keep the weeds from coming up…leave them there! That’s a great reason NOT to rake them up!

  2. Tanya says:

    You could always uhm…. yeah, cover your yard with a big tarp when the first leaves fall, then when it’s time to rake, just roll it up, with all the leaves inside. Of course, you’ll kill your grass, but hey, you can’t have everything.

  3. Brad says:

    This is the reason I only have one tree in my yard (and I prune the shit out of it)! It has been the one and only tree that was included when we built the house. My goal is for the tree to grow upwards and not outward. I have eliminated any branches that would be low enough for a kid to climb. The tree is doing well. My wife likes to remind me that I need to plant more trees for the house to have shade. It hasn’t happened yet. Besides, I have all the raking I can stand from the neighbor’s leaves coming into our yard.

    I wish I could stand for the leaves to just sit there. That is just too many leaves to have chopped up with the mower. I felt the need to do some raking yesterday before I cut the grass.

  4. Zoot says:

    Here’s an idea you might not have tried. Having grown up in Florida we had Pine needles to rake, not leaves, but I’m assuming it works all the same.

    When it comes time to bag the annoying bastards, a good trick (so long as you have a partner) is to get one person to stand on the garbage bag, holding it open. For example, have your wife spread the bag open, and put one foot on either side of the opening on the ground, then stand up holding the other side of the bag open with her hands, kinda making a square. Then whoever’s raking the leaves can just shove the pile into the bag, which elliminates all the pesky bending and shoveling… all there is to this method is a sort of.. corraling. Yeah. It’s like cattle. I’m a southern girl, what do you want?

  5. Sharon says:

    Y’all are silly! Rake them into a big pile and cover it with a tarp. When springtime rolls around, you have insta-mulch! (and angry neighbors -because they don’t have the tasticles to plant a big tarp in their yards)

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