has come to my yard! But this battle doesn't involve modern conventional
weapons with individual rounds of ammunition that cost almost as much
as my eldest and most expensive daughter's wardrobe. Instead, this
is a battle against one of the most annoying forces of nature known
to man-the scourge of autumn leaves.
At some point in mid-fall, all of the delinquent trees in my neighborhood
get together in the middle of the night to vape and prank the middle-aged
neat freak with the tidy lawn compulsion. The next morning I awaken
to find my lawn adorned with what some people might consider a charming,
colorful mosaic, but I view it as a cruel conspiracy involving the
great outdoors and the Hefty Corporation to coerce me into doing yard
work long after my grass has finally quit growing and turned an exquisite
lifeless-beige. Of course, I realize that during autumn and early
winter, falling leaves-along with Walmart running out of canned chili
with no beans-is one of the unavoidable laws of nature and a by-product
of living in densely forested East Texas.
What seems especially unfair, though, is that most of the leaves that
seek asylum on my property are from other people's trees. It's as
if Mother Nature is trying to stand out in a crowded presidential
primary by adopting a radical scheme of reverse leaf-litter socialism.
I've seriously considered building a great and beautiful wall-and
having the neighbors pay for it. I'm also currently trying to decide
whether it would be rude to ask them to retrieve their own fugitive
leaves from my yard. After all, I occasionally clean up after my daughters'
scruffy doglets when they attempt to sabotage the lawns and sneakers
of the folks next door with their homemade puppy truffles.
Speaking of dogs, when my three girls were younger, we owned two lovable
and chronically smelly Chinese pugs who spent a good deal of time
transforming our yard into a Lincoln-Log minefield. One fine autumn
day, I decided to gather up a pile of leaves for the girls to jump
in-since one of the greatest delights of children is to wallow in
a mound of filthy yard rakings and emerge with a pantload of pine
straw. Although I thought I had been diligent in picking up after
the pugs, my middle daughter soon found the needle in the haystack-or
in this case, the doodie in the leaf pile-and was wearing it like
a therapeutic body mask. Luckily, the smell went away after a couple
Probably the most exasperating leaf crisis I experience each year
results from our rain gutters emitting tractor beams that exclusively
attract dead foliage-and the occasional lizard corpse. Sure, I could
pay to have those fancy gutter guards installed for around the price
of a double hip replacement, but that would rob me of the pleasure
of balancing myself on a rickety ladder in gale force winds while
I reach into the downspouts to drag out what looks like the aftermath
of an alien C-section.
And that's to say nothing of the full-blown toga party of unbridled
leafage hosted by our swimming pool when the cold weather of the holiday
season arrives. On any given night, I can often be found freezing
my sugarplums off in the back tundra as I scoop a metric ton of soggy
and heavily chlorinated flora from the arctic waters of the old prune
On a positive note, falling leaves do announce the arrival of some
of the most special times of the year, when families gather around
warm fireplaces, enjoy uplifting fellowship and engage in protracted
overeating. Which reminds me-if I ever get all these leaves picked
up, I can make it to Walmart before they run out of chili.