“Leaf” Well Enough Alone…

leaf images

When we moved from Northern Ohio to southern Indiana 25+ years ago, the house we bought had but 2 trees in the yard and they were at the far western edge of the property.

But over the years I’ve planted trees in the yard and today, there are no less than 18 trees and bushes dotting the landscape.

There are s few soft maples and a hard maple or two plus some ash trees, flowering crab apples, a cottonwood, a Pin Oak, a black willow, a flowering Chinese cherry tree and one Washington Hawthorn tree that will jab you if you just look at it funny.

However the birds love it because no predators will attempt a visit because those thorns will be there.

Safe nesting is a sure thing.

A couple of these trees are more than 35 feet tall and they provide a lot of nice, cooling shade in the hot, muggy months.

But those same shady trees produce a lot of natural litter.

Leaves.

Lots of leaves.

And they tend to flutter to earth in large numbers this time of year.

Now, I’m a lawn care geek and gardener so I put my leaves to use.

They get recycled.

I rake them into piles, run my mower through them and chop them up and then I install the bag on the mower and pick them up.

I used them for mulch in flower beds and in the garden.

They also help protect perennials from the icy breezes of winter if you keep them in place with mesh or small sections of fence.

My wife has one of those leaf blowers as does one of my sons-in-law but frankly, I deplore them.

They’re too “whiny”.

To me, there’s nothing more relaxing than raking leaves on a sun-drenched fall afternoon.

Now that I’m retired, I don’t feel leaf-raking is taking me away from any other tasks so I’m fine with the effort and time required.

When we lived in Ohio, we had a huge maple tree inn the backyard that had its’ own area code.

I would rake those leaves into piles, hitch up the trailer to the Wheel Horse tractor and the girls would help me load the leaves into the trailer.

They’d hop on top of the pile and we’d ride to the garden, where I would drop the tailgate and they would kick and throw those leaves out on the garden.

Later, I’d run the rototiller through the garden to turn the soil and work those leaves into the earth help keep those leaves from blowing back into the yard when the stiff winter winds blew.

Other times, the girls would grab the lawn rakes and sweep those tree offerings into rooms of their “house” and they would play within these boundaries for hours on end with their dolls and such.

It’s for that reason that the National Toy Hall of Fame in Rochester, New York might want to consider “the leaf” as a member of the shrine.

What about “leaf fights”, the autumn equivalent of winter’s snowball fights?

Running and jumping into huge piles of leaves was great fun, too, until you encountered a spider or a “treat” left by the dog in the yard.

I’m of that generation that had to collect pretty leaves and bring them to class.

You’d find a pretty gold or scarlet leaf and place it between two pieces of wax paper and grab Mom’s iron to apply just enough heat to seal the deal.

Now, I know the EPA would frown on this but I was one who enjoyed the aroma of burning leaves in the fall.

We’d rake those crumbly, mostly brown remnants of Mother Nature’s canopy into long, serpentine piles in the ditch along the street.

As log as it wasn’t too windy, we’d toss a match of two in the pile and there’d be a small wisp of gray smoke before the flames would erupt.

More impatient folks would toss some gasoline on their leaves.

Bad move!

The fumes would gather beneath the pile and when the flames reached it, that “Whoomp!” would blow leaves and ash skyward, into the street and back into the yard.

Our city allows homeowners to rake leaves to the curb for free pick up.

A city truck with a big leaf vacuum on it will sweep them up and take them to the recycling center where they eventually wind up as compost.

However, there are always a few “mulvanes” who rake their leaves into the gutter, where they clog the storm sewers and turn city streets into small lakes when those soaking autumn rains occur.

Don’t worry if the grass turns yellow beneath the piles of leaves.

Once they’re gone, that grass will green up quite nicely.

So for me, as long as I’m able, I’ll be a leaf-raker.

I look at it as sort of giving my lawn’s back a “scratch”.

You have a relaxed and comfortable lawn and you’ll also have a lush, green yard next spring.

Seems to work around here!

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