How to Rake Leaves on a Windy Day

After the elections, a red-state liberal ponders futility — and against all odds, arrives at hope.


Comments: 176

  1. Always up for a good leaf raking story. I spent 40 + years raking leaves so I consider myself pretty much an expert for residential leaf raking. Sorry to burst your bubble but the electric leaf blower is the way to go. Hours outside in the fresh, cool fall air just mindlessly moving the leaves around where ever you would like them. The rake? Oh no. Too much manual labor for this chore. Just the blower, pointed downward moving the leaves along to their resting place. Ah, yes.

  2. Sorry, but it takes as many hours or more to use a blower as a rake.

  3. @Don S - I'm holding out for a little solar number . . . with a silencer.

  4. @Don S You spent 40+ years raking? Well, I've spent about 70 and, if i learned something in the process it's to keep your thumbs up on the rake handle, use a sweeping motion when you rake the leaves off your lawn, walks, etc., and that any leaf blowers are simply ridiculous. It takes me about half the time to rake than the neighbors with their blowers for about the same size yard, it's great exercise and no noise or pollution! THUMBS UP, my friend!

  5. As an avid gardener, this speaks to my soul. As a diehard Liberal in Kansas, it speaks to my heart. You are simply a fantastic writer, and I needed just this, after the past few weeks. Best wishes.

  6. Margaret Renkl's admonition to get up and do something--to get up and make do--is a fit metaphor this week for anyone who's worried about the state of the larger world. Winter may be coming, Renkl seems to say, but spring always follows. Leaves fall and die, but they always nurture the earth. Always. I'm reading her column on a chilly Sunday evening, but I plan to hunt for my rake tomorrow morning, no matter the temperature. As I work, I'll allow the leaves on the ground, the ones blowing in the breeze, and those still on the branches to sweep the cobwebs from my spirit. As for collecting leaves to bring inside the house, I plan to track down a ginkgo leaf for sure. Who knows what else I'll find?

  7. Thanks for the reassurance that "[i]n almost every situation where something is loud, obnoxious and seemingly ubiquitous, resistance is an option." Good how-to articles on that subject are always in season, but especially when November rolls around.

  8. Here in Chicago we have a number of trees in our yard — a red bud with its heart shaped leaves, a forest oansy redbud with even darker leaves, a crab apple, a pear tree, a cherry tree, a columnar dark leafed beech, a paper birch, and a tricolored beech with dark leaves too. So we have lots of trees and endless raking. For years we would dig trenches and bury the leaves in these trenches. Now, with increasing age, raking is enough and putting the leaves in two large compost bins suffice. As for leaf blowers . . . well, they are a bane, oftentimes interfering with the quiet contemplative aspects of putting our garden to bed. Better to watch the leaves waft to the earth from their lofty perches above, and contemplate the re-emergence of these buds and leafs five to six months hence in the Soring.

  9. I purposely keep a low maintenance yard. Minimal raking, minimal mowing... That said, my neighborhood screams with leaf blowers, to the point that there is no respite. And you know what? It's one or two lawn services that all my neighbors need to hire because they can't bother themselves with a little of their own maintenance. (Spend some time outdoors, you may actually get to know your neighbors). Weekends, that time where you want a little peace and quiet, they start up at 8:00, and go through the morning 'till afternoon. They fire up on weekday evenings under an office building nearby that acts as a resonance chamber, they never stop. Thanks to the foresight of the fine city leaders of Portland (sarcastic), they seem to have changed the noise ordinance to allow these things to start earlier, and continue later in the day, even on weekends. This has robbed me of the catharsis of waiving the ordinance in front of the offenders. I've seen parks employees with leaf-blowers on trails, and I was accosted by a leaf blower in a multilevel parking garage just yesterday!! I've even had to confront someone using a leaf blower at 3:00 AM on an iced-up sidewalk, (see, people in Portland have no idea how to deal with the occasional real winter weather) Use a rake! please, just use a rake!

  10. @j s: that is easy to SAY, but then are you a senior citizen? disabled? alone? have health issues? a single mom with small children? Not everyone has the fitness, health, stamina or lifestyle to rake leaves every weekend from late September until snowfall!! and not everyone can AFFORD a professional landscaping service to remove the leaves from their property!

  11. @Concerned Citizen Professional services aren't needed to rake leaves. A local kid can do it just fine. Or a local grown-up.

  12. What a wonderful essay and wonderful writer. Thank you.

  13. Lovely. But here in New England where the leaves fall thick and fast, I'm lazy so I rake the leaves over the roses in the garden bed and be done with it. I'll deal in the springtime when hope is present.

  14. Just the thing to bed down the garden and to retain soil moisture, the single biggest contributor to winter kill.

  15. This is beautiful, taken literally. Is there a metaphor to politics under the leaves in my yard, the dry crunchy ones on top and the soft, soggy ones on the bottom? Even to contemplate that risks ruining the moment. Autumn is the season of dwindling daylight, a recurring coda to summer's glory. Spring is the season of rebirth. In the garden, the forest and in matters more faunal, before we get to spring we must endure winter.

  16. @Bengal Richter: that is only true in certain climate zones. I live in the Midwest! we know all about winter, thanks. But what about those in Florida? California? Nevada? Texas? Hawaii? they experience winter quite differently! What does "winter" mean to those who have an endless growing season?

  17. Margaret Renkl weaves life lessons with the lessons of nature into our lives with assuredness but also with subtlety and those lessons always so spot on, so meaningful. Her writing style communicates big thoughts through nature. Being outdoors is a grounding(please excuse the pun) experience that brings life down to scale. As my grandmother said, "If you are troubled, grab a broom and let the worry melt away." As a professional gardener, my tool of choice is the rake. And my "leaf" is a vase of coleus cuttings, in honor of my grandmother and now also Ms. Renkl. Here's to hope!

  18. Leaf blowers are a menace down here in deep red Oklahoma, too. Natasha and I, though, have not one rake but two. We find raking to be a deeply relaxing tonic when we are faced with the also dispiriting political noise.

  19. Leaf blowers have nothing to do with red and blue politics, they are a ubiquitous plague in blue NJ.

  20. I would agree that - with all due respect to money - leaf blowers are the root of all evil. Leaf blowers turn the gorgeous natural rhythm and fading light of autumnal gloaming into a misophonic hell. When I was a boy, there were no leaf blowers. I can still hear the relative golden autumnal silence of my youth, now in a galaxy far, far away. Die, leaf blowers; die a horrible, violent death.

  21. @Socrates:"When I was a boy, there were no leaf blowers." Right and we should also rake the leaves to the curbside and burn them.

  22. @Socrates: I remember that too, but back then...I was a young whipper snapper and raking leaves was bracing and sometimes fun (jumping in piles of leaves!) and I could earn $5 for doing it. (That was real money back then.) It is less fun as you get older and I'm 62 now. I've made my peace with the leaves though, thanks to my MULCHING LAWNMOWER. The grass needs cutting right up to snowfall, and this chops the leaves into fine mulch that composts into the grass over the winter. No raking (or very little). Soc, I also remember you used to be able to BURN the leaves you raked -- in a sort of grate -- that was wonderful too. Oh the smell of burning autumn leaves! it was the nostalgic scent of the end of summer and the transition into the cold weather. But alas....my community and many others have banned leaf burning now.

  23. @Socrates It's been a while since anything I read in the Times made be laugh out loud. Thank you!

  24. I raked for hours yesterday in the windy cold. I loved it. My muscles are sore today but it was worth it.

  25. Margaret Renkl, you are a poet. I love, LOVE your writings, whether about nature, animals, or politics. LOVE your pieces. This one, though, kind of takes the cake for me. As a liberal, I’m often disappointed, sometimes elated, mostly simply hopeful that more people will open their eyes and hearts. So, yes. Making do is what I mostly do. I count on springtime. Thank You for a wonderful column.

  26. As Ms. Renkl states working in the garden is the best way to meet the neighbors. Now that we had to taken the structurally unsound elm out of our back yard, we have none of our own leaves to rake. The friendly and super-conscientious neighbors on either side rake up our front yard where their trees' leaves fall. At least I can still rake our back yard, although they have offered to take care of that, too. After raking, I pick the wonder berries. I am hoping that next year I will finally have a large enough wonder berry harvest for pies all around. Last year I started to see the demon leaf blowers being used across the street as growling, stinking snow blowers. Ugh! Give me back the crystalline air and the scrape - flump of the shovel!

  27. Thank you for such a beautiful and poingnant essay. At a time of stress, discord, and apparent futility where the summer seems very far away indeed, I needed this.

  28. I use both tools. A blower to quickly form piles and the rake to pull the piles onto a strong 20 x 30 tarp for dragging off. One piece of advice: while leaning on your rake to contemplate the scent of the earth sounds lovely, a leaf rake will not support your weight and you will break the rake and the mood ;)

  29. @Chauncey Gardner Based on my observations, the neighbors using snowblowers spend far more time chasing leaves than I (and many others) do easily raking them into neat piles. Raking is also good exercise. I understand the benefits of snowblowers (even inherited one that I'll use when I'm too feeble to shovel), but leaf blowers seem almost counterintuitive. To me it's nothing more than an arrested adolescent male fascination with noisy internal combustion engines.

  30. As I read this piece I was reminded of the film “Being There”..... Chauncey Gardner tending.... them as I read the comments I saw your entry. BTW I do as you do, a quick round up with the blower and rake to tarp.

  31. Americans agree on many of the issues that face is: from sensible immigration to gun restrictions to taxing the wealthy more. A great American leader will remind us of that. And this- something 90% of us agree on: Cleaning up our political system. We can use a simple app to make a "Mass Viral Demand" politicians can not ignore. "We The People 250." A constitutional amendment. 1) max contribution to any candidate for public office - $250. Any level - city council to president. 2) same $250 limit for "political speech" (if a person or group wants to air a commercial taking a political view, the funds for that commercial, that political speech, can only be garnered in maximum $250 chunks. No billionaire or organization can command the airwaves with massive buys of political speech.) 3) all congressional districts drawn by non-partisan panels. A few states do this now. 4) no lobbying after leaving Congress. No employment by any company on which the politician voted. 5) complete disclosure of all financial holdings and tax records from any candidate and all sitting politicians. 6) automatic registration to vote at birth for citizens. 7) mailed ballots - done successfully in Oregon now. Paper can't be hacked. 8) extra provisions, drafted by experts in campaign finance for all other issues. Our government is not for sale. Our brave soldiers did not die for that. We turn 250 in eight years. $250 limit ammendment. Our early birthday present to America.

  32. @Paul King and just a reminder, we also have mail in ballots in Washington state. It works quite well.

  33. So, where’s the App? $250 makes sense. Please, can we do This? Thanks, Fay

  34. @Paul King: OK, but how do you PROVE you are a citizen then? the left opposes all attempts to have IDs for voting! (and yes, illegal aliens vote. I've witnessed this with my own eyes).

  35. Something wonderful happened in my neighborhood this fall. Apparently everyone is reading the very latest literature about healthy eco-habits for your yard. And. Oh my, an explosion of color that lasts for weeks because...no one has raked their yards yet! It's gorgeous, photo-worthy and fabulous. I guess the by the next dry Sunday the air will be blasting with the sound of composting lawnmowers.

  36. @Emma Horton I don't put poison on my lawn anymore, but the absolute best thing would be to let the lawn grow wild! There is ONE house on my street with a front lawn that has turned into a flowery meadow of "weeds". If I wasn't worried about being judged as "lazy", I would allow nature to take over my yard, too!

  37. I simply love your writing. Lovely, inspirational, and encouraging. Thank you for sharing your gift with us.

  38. I've often thought the Robert Frost poem, "Nothing Gold Can Stay" lacked an ending. Here it is.

  39. Beautiful. "When autumn leaves begin to fall", Nat King Cole's song, is a reminder of the wonderful season of a multicolored spectrum...and the wind!

  40. Thank you Margaret for your soul soothing words - the first I have read in the NYT seemingly since forever. Heartening to know there are still such gentle reflective thoughts possible in an America so angry torn and fractured.

  41. Our mountain cabin is on some sloping acres. Over the years a mile or so of paths have been made for very private walks. Come late Autumn, even early December, a joy of joys, we're on the south slope, little or no wind to bother our raking of those leaves, and just enough to clear the path. A peaceful time.

  42. Oh, this is lovely. Thank you! I will take that crimson leaf from my back yard tree and place it on my desk. Then in spring when everything is reborn and is abloom, I will take that leaf and place it on the soil to be reborn again in its own unique way.

  43. The trees in my front yard lose more leaves than can be raked up in a morning, so I bought an electric blower, but is can be used to suck up the leaves, mulch them and put them in a bag. Then those mulched leaves go into a compost bin, so they do not get wasted at all. If i keep them wet they can go into the vegetable garden in the spring. I suppose the blower is annoying, but only need it a few days a year.

  44. Thank you, a beautiful image for the sentiment that "this too shall pass". Much needed in my neck of the woods as well.

  45. Thank you. I did this today before reading, for your exact reasons. It’s a lovely experience. Such a happy memory, too. Have no idea why it was replaced with a machine of a neighbor’s that causes us to wear earplugs inside our own homes every weekend. Tomorrow, I’ll pick up my leaf for my desk.

  46. Something I pleasantly associated with fall, was the faint acrid smell of leaves being burned somewhere in the neighborhood. It was just part of the season, but now a distant memory as such past rituals are forbidden by local ordinances.

  47. @Robert SLOAN Thank goodness...less burning ,in many places, for many reasons!

  48. We planted another sugar maple this fall, a pretty big one. Can't tell you how good that felt. When leaves began to fall we brought some inside. Winter came early here this year, single digit temperatures and a light snow cover. The leaves I missed will have to wait for Spring.

  49. What a charming , beautifully written article. I love your suggestion to keep the leaf close by. Thank you Margaret!

  50. Thank you so much, Ms. Renkl. Literally and metaphorically, your notes here are a beautiful consolation in this time.

  51. I have a large weekend farm with about 3 acres of lawn under towering maples, red oaks, honey locusts and other leaf distributors. If you are beyond unread, you rake them... but if you love your lawn you will mow the leaves to a fine dust that gives a natural fertilizer over the winter that will reap rewards in the spring.

  52. Keeping something from nature at your work place is a wonderful practice. Not that many leaves on the Pacific coast but I always keep a seashell (recently gathered), pine cone, and a bit of drift wood close at hand. A small bunch of fennel too -- I love that licorice smell. Nature helps to ground us, keep us centered.

  53. The writer lives in Nashville: I lived in the south myself for a few years about 15 years ago. In my case it was in the suburbs north of Atlanta. It was the first time I had heard a leaf blower. Never in my time living in Missouri and Michigan do I recall hearing a single leaf blower. But in Georgia, they were the pure evil that haunted my soul. I would watch some lazy-perfectionist chasing the last leaf around his yard for 5 minutes when he could have merely reached down and picked up the leaf in five seconds. In rural Vermont there seemingly are no leaf blowers even today. Most people seem to leave the leaves where they fall, except for some special areas that do get raked like the path to the house... A long winter and slow, wet spring seem to help the fallen leaves decay and fertilize. Many people here actually heat with wood or at least supplement their furnaces with a fire in the wood stove on the coldest days and evenings. That is what I do. And felling trees and creating firewood means something that makes a similar sound to a leaf blower; except deeper and throatier and all together more powerful - the chain saw!

  54. Here, leaf blowers are a constant plague. Apt complexes, churches, schools, and lots of rich people who don't do their own lawns. Not to mention pesticides, which they blow around. This town bills itself as liberal and progressive and "green", but I've never seen so much waste and pollution anywhere else.

  55. Rake the stuff away from the fences, corners, house, and shrubs and mower mulch it away.

  56. @Lawrence Absolutely right, Lawrence! Power mulch the leaves into your Honda lawn mower's bagging attachment. Mulched leaves are smaller by a factor of 5.

  57. I pick up the leaves in other yards and bring them home and put them on my desk. So grateful for the beauty.

  58. I live in Missouri, unfortunately in our neighborhood leaf blowers are a constant presence, so annoying. My husband and I still use our rakes to pick some of the leaves. I observe the different shapes, colors and sizes of all the leaves. Thank you for writing about the importance of leaving leaves in the ground. We’ll think about spring to wait for those little creatures that take refuge under the leaves left. Our yard only has native plants this has helped increase insect diversity year after year.

  59. My six large oak trees have been especially productive of healthy- looking leaves and acorns this year. Plus I have what appears to be a bumper crop of fat healthy-looking squirrels inhabiting them. I expect to be raking my leaves for another two weeks before finishing the job and carting them away. In a world full of trouble and woe, leave are a little island of sanity.

  60. ... leaves are a little island of sanity.

  61. My six large oak trees have been especially productive of healthy- looking leaves and acorns this year. Plus I have what appears to be a bumper crop of fat healthy-looking squirrels inhabiting them. I expect to be raking my leaves for another two weeks before finishing the job and carting them away. In a world full of trouble and woe, leaves are a little island of sanity.

  62. My husband and I are in Washington State for a short visit. California is burning up, but here Autumn has blown in with clear crisp wind. We waded through waves of leaves today and marveled at the number of colors the leaves turn. I am trying hard to stay in the moment and not think of politics, or the fires, or anything but the beauty of Autumn. I need to refresh my mind after this grueling year. And back home we will cross our fingers that rain will come soon.

  63. I read this column after a day spent in frigid weather planting 50 bulbs -- little lumps, each as unimpressive as a dull chrysalis, that would incredibly transform into the fluttering colors of tulips and daffodils. I agonized about the cost. Bulbs are expensive. Was it worth it? I didn't want to get up off the couch -- it was 40 degrees out and windy and I'd get dirty. I had to dig deep, and encounter worms and bugs, and place each bulb carefully, and then bury my hopeful work. But I have faith in what will come. I did the planting. Though it seems improbable, I believe that after a long winter, my work will fill my postage-stamp sized yard with color. Since the 2016 election, I've been hauling myself off the couch, getting dirty, encountering worms. As you do in certain seasons, I picked up the pace the past few months. No matter how unpromising or dull each effort seemed -- phone banking for FL and TN, "post carding" likely voters, prompting others with texts -- I had faith that what I did made a difference, that out of the grey, color would emerge. The seasons and the natural world tell us over and over: it is never winter forever.

  64. Another simple and elegant reminder that the more we think we have advanced technologically the further behind as humans we have become. We have gone so long doing nothing to feed our soul that we have failed to notice we have lost our soul.

  65. My wife and I eagerly read everything that we can find of Margaret Renkl's writing since encountering her amazing essay: Playing Possum The unlovely side of love MARGARET RENKL OCT 31, 1996 4 AM Nashville Scene I just googled it, and it's even better than I remembered -

  66. If America cannot "see" the path other countries are taking to at least make some minimal overall effort to reduce carbon emissions, and muster some attempt to also participate, then the hospitable climate that homo sapiens has known, flourished, and raked leaves under, will -in all likelihood- be not just "over" but far gone. And that sort of effort, already long ignored, postponed, and trivialized, will be further neglected unless there is finally an end to denial about what the US federal government is now doing to destroy such possibilities, and what the purported opposition political party is manifestly failing to do to thwart, replace and redirect it.

  67. My husband and I just raked the back yard leaves two days ago but they are coming down again today. :) Such beautiful colors... I have been collecting and bringing leaves in our house for years... feathers too. I keep them in a drawer in our sideboard. When my oldest daughter was getting married on our property a few years ago she came to me and asked if she could make boutonnières with some of the feathers and leaves for her future husband and the wedding party. I opened the drawer and we sat in the living room and she made a gorgeous little creation and the rest of us all copied her idea. They were beautiful and special. I kept a few after the wedding to save for her later. It was just so sweet. My daughter knew of that drawer and the contents since she was a little girl. I tried to raise two daughters to respect and love the outdoors and nature. This daughter became an Archeologist and her sister is a Life Science Teacher. Not a one of us owns a leaf blower. We all rake the leaves each year. feathers Being in touch with nature grounds us and the work of raking or planting the garden in spring are rituals that carry us through.

  68. As I pluck juicy oranges from the tree in my backyard, you have reminded me of my youth in the North. Here the cool weather is a gods send, a moist slightly grey reminder that even the hottest, most brain melting weather, comes to an end. The dry, cracked, fields have grown parched with waited all year for this drizzling gray season. Now we give thanks as the aloe grows plump, the squirrels steal some of our juicy orange bounty, and the election is finally over. More important than red or blue is the orange season. The season of pumpkin pie, friends, family, and for those marooned in the North, leaf raking. It is time for giving thanks for what we have, and what we have achieved so far, because slow progress remains progress. My neurologist told me that when I was 14, that came up when a relative was given 6 months to live 14 years ago, and every miraculous day we have so many beautiful and amazing reason to give thanks.

  69. "It will help you remember what the wind always teaches us in autumn: that just because you can’t see something doesn’t mean it isn’t there." Found myself raking leaves in the courtyard of a Japanese Zen monastery on a clear Fall day buffeted by wind. The 80-year-old Zen master slid open the front door with a big smile and that wind immediately died. I quickly raked up a pile which then flew everywhere as he closed the door. Go-Roshi would have said, "Neither the leaves nor the wind are moving, it's the mind that moves." Just because you see something doesn’t mean it's there.

  70. Magnificent prose poetry. Print a copy. Get a magnet. Make room on the refrigerator door. It's ok to move one or two pictures of your kids and you'll probably forget to take the coupon with you when you go pick up the pizza anyway. Put this there. In the space you made by moving a few things around a little.

  71. I do understand the necessity of non-burning ordinances in the suburbs and elsewhere, but ah how I miss the autumnal scent of burning leaves on the wind. Many years ago when I was first married we lived on a farm in the country and was no need for raking. One time when my mother was visiting she asked my husband if he would rake up a small leaf pile and burn it so she could once again smell that most evocative of autumn scents. I miss her - and that chilly smokey air.

  72. This was such a lovely read and so soothing in these fraught times. This past weekend I picked up the prettiest crimson and yellow leaves I could find to decorate our Thanksgiving table and also to gently iron between sheets of wax paper, as I learned to do as a child, and send to my grandchildren living in the States. Living in the Northeast, I know they have plenty of leaves, but it makes me feel closer to them.

  73. I spent a few hours Sunday raking leaves in my garden. Saturday had been too windy to do much good — the wind in Oklahoma really does come sweeping down the plains— so I waited a day. The exertion made me forget the disappointment of the past week. I compost my leaves, so I was already thinking of what I would do next spring with the rich product of my labors this fall and winter. I can hear the wind now at 2:30, and I know that by the time I wake much of my work from the previous day won’t be apparent, but that’s part of the cycle of life too. Leaf blowers aren’t much of an issue for me. Most of them are used by lawn services in my neighborhood, and when they come I am usually at the office. I know the gardeners use them to blow leaves from the yard that they service into the street, where the wind carries them to my yard. That could antagonize me, but what’s the point? They just provide more material for my compost pile.

  74. Thank you. As a child growing up in Minnesota, I hated the chore of raking leaves. My little hands blistered on the cold Ash handle. The wind would regularly disperse my small piles and rows and I'd have to start over. I could jump in the leaf piles and smell the power of warmth and decay as my sisters and I would throw leaves at each other. Before fire ordinances, we would burn our leaves. I loved the smell of burning leaves, the dangerous thrill of tending the fire, and always shifting to avoid the smoke. Leaf blowers were an undreamable solution to the chores that kept me from my friends. But, while raking I could sing to the tempo of the rake. I could think. My mind would wander, explore, and make-up elaborate stories. I need to get back out and rake.

  75. Having raked leaves for over 65 years, I can tell you it is a chore. Nothing wrong with chores, and if we could harness the wind to help move the leaves in the desired direction and to the desired resting place, we would do just that, and that, without any romantic attachment, is a leaf blower. A combination of blowing and raking seems to be the best approach over all, said not to sit on the fence, much, in this debate, but simply because both have their place. A rake can do a much better job, but a blower is so much easier, and men and women, alike, always tend toward economy of effort. The yard looks beautiful, when it is covered with leaves, and looks just as beautiful when free of them. There is something to be said for both sides, now. I'm not sure why people are opposed to leaf blowers, but they're opposed to snow blowers, too. So, it must be the noise, I guess. For those that want to sleep in, and there are plenty of those types, there has been considerable backlash expressed in opinion piece after opinion piece about "the noise." I don't really see this article as much different than that, with the exception that it tries to be flowery and witty about it. That's dishonest in many ways. There is just no way that raking the leaves on an acre or more size property is fun. What this article misses, though, is that there are now battery operated blowers that make less than half the noise and work well in combination with raking. It's less romantic sounding but works.

  76. @Reuben Ryder It is the noise, the noise, and the noise. What gives you the right, public or private, to do injury to your neighbor’s eardrums? We, as neighbors, I hope, would not tolerate incessant barking dogs or your neighbor importing a blaring rock band on weekends. These are nuisances. As for snow blowers, if you have a driveway or sidewalk to clear in 15 minutes, perhaps your neighbor can be accommodating and ignore the intrusion. On the other hand, if you are going to use a snow blower to clear an acre of your land and extend that noise on your neighbor, perhaps that would be unreasonable. Did not Robert Frost say something about “good fences making good neighbors”? An updated Robert Frost poem would suggest offering a bit of consideration for your neighbor’s eardrums and quiet enjoyment of his or her land and house as opposed to baneful neighborhood leaf blowing.

  77. @Reuben Ryder "It must be the noise," you guess? Sadly, it seems you have adjusted, like many people, to the intolerable level of machine noise that assaults us all daily. I live across the street from a beautiful park and love to sit on a bench at sunrise and watch the light change as I hold the people I love in my heart. As you can see, it is not my sleep that is interrupted by the loud blowers that arrive to do what a broom could do so much more respectfully. (And the broom would be better for the workers' ears too.) It is my soul that is being attacked. Some mornings I bike over the beach, four blocks away, to watch and meditate before the majestic sea and sky. But there too, machines intrude--and not all of them are doing useful work like cleaning. The arrival of model drones on the scene is a plague. They swoop and zoom and hover, all the while making a loud buzzing sound. Who wants to feel as if he/she is in a war zone? Please don't write our plea for silence off as an attempt to be "flowery and witty." What is at stake here is more profound and more precious than efficiency. It is our very human nature, body and soul, that requires peace and quiet for growth, for health, for community, for survival. At least some of the time.

  78. @Martina I have one neighbor, and he has a tractor. Geesh! This will come as a surprise to you, living in Chicago and all, people don't clear an acre of land with a snow blower. They might use a leaf blower. Clearing the area helps to prevent against forest fires, etc., which in our area makes people thankful. I guess it is the road least chosen in Chicago. While you were at it, you failed to say how a snow blower injures anyone's ear drums. Do you have evidence? Or are you just using "baneful hyperbole?" In a world such as yours where people cannot tolerate an interruption even for a few hours a year, it must be a great strain on you given all the other noise pollutants that we are subjected to during the entire course of the year. A fence wouldn't help much, but if you insist, put one up.

  79. Thank you for this wonderful moment of zen. We don't have to be exhausted by our resistance, we can do it with joyfulness and a sense of renewal.

  80. @JABarry Doing Zen right

  81. Thank you for depicting my backyard so eloquently; The colors and shapes are splendid. This year I was preempted by early snow, making it slushy and slippery. A joyous chore gives you time to contemplate and ponder the life in the woods. Thank you for sharing your wonderful feelings !

  82. I lived south of the Mason Dixon line for 25 years. While I enjoyed my time there, made many friends, even learned to love bourbon, I just couldn’t take another minute in another red state, especially with the rise of Trumpism. So I moved to Massachusetts, where I went to school. I found bipartisan government, reasoned politics, and a booming economy founded on eternal liberal policies that allow businesses to thrive in the most productive innovation hub in the world. We even have a republican Governor, Charlie Baker, who works so well with Boston’s Mayor, Marty Walsh, they may as well be twins. Sure we have our problems (I’m talking to you MBTA and Keolis), but we are the model for success in a divided America. Stop trying to figure out what’s wrong in red America, and start understanding what’s right in blue America so we can all live in purple harmony.

  83. @Jeffrey Schantz Love that phrase, "live in purple harmony." The sound of my teenage years hums in my brain. Yes, let's.

  84. I love this. Thank you. I’ve raked all my life. My small urban yard is home to numerous trees and the volume of fallen leaves is immense. I am 65. The raking consumes much time in the fall. But it’s precisely as you describe, an opportunity to pay attention and appreciate the astonishing abundance of life even in this small space — the squirrels and chipmunks and garter snakes and finches and rabbits and raccoons, plus all those creatures too small for me to see or hidden under the soil. And the sun and clouds and beautiful pewter November light.

  85. This brought back so many memories. In the South before grass lawns took over, yards were viewed as pristine when they had no grass, just sand and dirt that were "swept" religiously once a week. I hated that chore so much; would much rather have been reading a good book in a room corner somewhere. But just like planting flowers (something picked up from my grandmother unbeknownst to me at the time), I still rake my leaves as I did many years ago. I also pick them up with two old car tags to put into the bags. Some old habits never die. I also love the smells Margaret so aptly describes. What a wonderful writer she is....truly magnificent.

  86. @Sybil Bullock Car tags! What I great idea! I'm putting that into practice this week.

  87. @Sybil Bullock I had to stop and think what you meant when you said car tags. Where I live, we call those license plates.

  88. Love the metaphor but the best part of this piece, for me, is the evocation of the memory of Fall leaf raking with my now grown children. After about 20 minutes of raking, I would look over to see my adolescent son, ear buds in place, doing some serious air guitar thrashing with his rake. Wonderful memories! Thanks

  89. Thank you for a wonderful piece of thinking and wisdom. I will share this with friends and family.

  90. Lovely! Many thanks Margaret.

  91. I have taken the time to note the colors of the sky as the sun sinks behind the northern hills of the Hudson highlands. The mix of coral and pink I can only see when the sun leans south. I have noted that the hawks are gone, even the fledgling that kept the yard particularly still and quiet this fall; but the nuthatches and juncos are back. I've marveled at how green the grass is this close to Thanksgiving, and watched the deer change from reddish brown to a somber, grayer hue that blends with the trunks of trees. And I fired up the walk behind blower and cleared the property of the leaves, because frankly, I'd still be out their raking next week, and the week after that, to pile and haul the detritus left behind by the maples and the hickories, and the dinner plate leaves of the sycamore. There's apple and mulberry in there too, as well as poison ivy that I missed and didn't cut off trunks, and bittersweet. An acre can catch a lot of leaves after the winds form the north west blow them into your yard. We all have our ways of exploring the silence. Sometimes we just don't have the time before the snows come to indulge. So we get the job done with noise and efficiency; but we take the time to look around us when we are done.

  92. Loved the piece and the equally lovely illustration!

  93. I approached this article thinking it was a metaphor for politics. I was so happy to see that it was about leaves! Then I found a whole community of kind folks touched by Margaret's observations and insight. They lifted me up, made me thankful that I downsized to a tiny yard all mine, that at 73 I am lucky to be healthy enough to rake it myself. So grateful for this lovely piece of writing and the people it inspired.

  94. @Holly Trahan I think it is a metaphor, for life rather than politics.

  95. A lovely, inspiring message. Also helpful. I have tried to bag leaves little by little, particularly to avert their getting caugt in the rain and stick to the brick patio. One day the idea of the blower was unacceptable and I reached for the rake. Great. I easily gathered a bagful and considerably lightened the load that would have been pummeled by the rain. I was also reminded that in the hard to reach areas, the winter will take care of that. Thank you Ms Renki

  96. I have found a Kindred spirit in Margaret Renkl . I'm one of the few people in my Nashville neighborhood who knows what a rake is. The obnoxiously loud and smelly leaf blowers are everywhere and seem to be somewhere nearby all day and every day. Thanks for the meditative hints about how to live well despite the annoyances of urban life.

  97. Thank you. Raking leaves can be a moving meditation. The ability to move and experience the subtleties is a gift you reminded me of.

  98. As I get older, my tolerance for noise diminishes and my appreciation for manual work increases. I’ve always raked leaves and enjoyed the feeling of sore muscles and the sense of accomplishment, no matter how temporary. Thank you for showing that I’m not alone, as I never see anyone else doing it. Last year I bought a new metal rake that is much more pleasant than my old plastic one. If you like raking, try charcoal grilling. I gave away my gas grill and now enjoy slowing down enough to light the fire 20 minutes before I’m ready to cook. The smell makes up for not being able to burn the leaves like we did when I was young in North Carolina.

  99. My back is sore but after raking and bagging six bags of leaves on Saturday in the lean autumn light I felt I earned that Manhattan and hearty dinner later that evening. I quite enjoyed it, pleased that I still have the strength and energy for the chore. Chapter one of the chore I mean; I live on a corner lot, and next weekend will surely bring more of the same.

  100. This wonderful piece puts me in mind that the best way to do something is not always the easiest way.

  101. @MKlik Sometimes too the best way to do something is not to do it.

  102. A very beautifully written essay that reflects my views about how to honor leaves, the work in yard work and our national political situation at this time in history. Remember those who, as a group of people, are coerced into living in jail cells, and housing projects without yards; they have no leaves and no desks and no concept of planting bulbs for a spring that is certain. They are connected to us because our affluence is their misery. If we are the tree, then surely they are the leaves who must fall. In our America, to the degree that we are free, they must be brave.

  103. Thank you Margaret Renkl for another lovely piece of writing to lighten a gloomy world.

  104. Some of my most cherished memories are time spent in the silence of nature. I vividly remember a campsite in the middle of the Rangley lake chain in Maine when canoeing. After a very tiring transit across the lake paddling into the wind, I found the site as the growing clouds foretold a storm in my future. I pitched my tent and secured the gear. Then, in the stillness of the afternoon, resting after my labors, I watched an osprey swoop across the lake and pluck his afternoon meal, a large silvery fish, out of the darkening waters. We need stillness in our lives as an anodyne to our increasingly contentious times. Thank you, Ms. Renkl.

  105. That is the essence of being IN life, not just muddling through. I miss that fall ritual--it's not quite the same in the South as it is in the North where I grew up. Everyone should have that experience. Cool, crisp, quiet fall days. Simply magical.

  106. I don't use a leaf blower, but I don't rake either. I just watch as the leaves fall and the winds blow them where they may, usually up against the roots of other bushes and trees, protecting them from the coming hard freeze of winter. That's the way it was before our species arrived, and that's how it will be after we've gone.

  107. My neglected back lawn looks almost as good covered in leaves as it does when covered with pure, white, snow.

  108. A precious moment. In the most fleeting season, where golden days shed their spectacular garments and don widows' weeds. Around most suburban neighborhoods, using the word loosely, most of the leaf blowing isn't done by owners, or owners' children, anymore: hired landscapers mow, and blow and plant and feed. They don't walk their dogs, they don't clean their houses, they don't shop for groceries: they are less in touch with the seasons than an 18th C. English lord of the manor. But in truth, I'll run my mower over most of the leaves - as soon as we have a dry enough day - which will mulch them up and allow them to quickly absorb back into the earth. ( I hate raking).

  109. Wonderful! Ms. Renkl you are an artist with words and I thank you for each and every essay. Personally, I use a wide plastic rake. And I move A LOT of leaves. A walk in my yard on a windy fall day is almost as good as golf.

  110. What a lovely article, thank you. I have always thought that if I was queen of the world I'd ban leafblowers (and turn out the city lights at night). Thank you!

  111. @Susan Anderson'I live in a suburb with some areas which are more "rural," when I first got here, there were few lights on all night. As the area became more populated - more lights. Streetlights in developments, and in other areas, owners - who have usually moved up from NYC - who seem to want to recreate the effect of the all night light in a car lot. You can barely see the night sky anymore. Turn out the lights.

  112. @Susan Anderson My niece's son visited me when he was around 10 years old. Lying on the deck one evening, he said he couldn't believe how many stars there were in Maine. He'd never been out of Manhattan.

  113. I’m 78 and have never and will never use a leaf blower. It took a concerted effort by our community’s legislative representatives and citizens over a number of years here to get the restrictions on the use of leaf blowers we are now so very fortunate to have. The result is a substantial improvement of our lives! I raked leaves yesterday. The "secret" to doing this efficiently, with the least amount of effort, is to keep your thumbs up on the rake handle and use a sweeping motion.

  114. @Alex B Hi Alex! Thanks for sending me this great article. I am going to take it to the Mayor. Hey Everyone out there - We have a group called Newton (CALM) Citizens Against Leaf blower Madness) in solidarity with Greenwich CALM and Sonoma CALM. I recommend starting a chapter in your municipality, working together to pass legislation that regulates leaf blowers. Join us! We are with you! Making life better for all ears, eyes and lungs.

  115. You give me hope. I share the sense of joy you find in small things, small beauties. Thank you.

  116. Ahhhh. Ommmm. The cycles of nature, the cycles of life. The quietude that used to be the commonplace but seldom taken for granted. Today we must surround ourselves with nonstop, narcotic audio and video that we never really see or hear. When the background we live with is chaotic, what do you think that does for the foreground? No need for polluting leaf blowers or high-powered lawn mowers that stealthily, continuously add to our stress levels. Yet we continue to crave these 'essentials' of contemporary life. Give me just the sound of leaves or snow falling instead. Thanks, Ms. Renkl, for these precious moments of zen, especially on a Monday! Ahhhh. Ommmm.

  117. A wonderful piece of writing on a daunting task for us, people from the Northeast. I will remember those warming sentences when I spent countless hours raking the continuous influx of leafs from my neighbours maples blown into my backyard. Thank you !

  118. I love raking leaves. It’s peaceful, meditative and life instructive in that no matter how much you take, somehow it’s never 100% done.

  119. Can we also add those portable generators to the list of sounds that disrupt our solitude?

  120. Beautifully written ode. It reminds me of a short story I finished reading just last night: The Caretaker (in the collection The Shell Collector) by Anthony Doerr. Recommend.

  121. I read this as a parable — a beautiful meditation on the daily work of hopefulness. This toxic anomaly in our capital, this too shall pass. Our country is a collective of mostly, generally, good hearted, hard working, family loving people, if not the bonds of love and marriage, then the family of caring friends, workers, neighbors. The dark season will pass by. We will get through it together.

  122. @Joy, So very well said!

  123. I never owned a leaf blower. And many years ago, in another life, I had a snow blower. One evening, about 8:00 PM after 36 hours or so of a snowstorm, blizzard-y sometimes, I went outside to get a jump on clearing sidewalks and the driveway. It was kind of like the calm after the hurricane. Freezing cold, starlight and oh so quiet. So quiet. I did maybe five minutes of snow blowing and stopped. I got rid of the snowblower. And here in VT, we tend to get a lot of snow, and boy do we have leaves. Thanks for this.

  124. I used to give fellow employees riddles for a workplace diversion. One of them was "What happens in your back yard in broad daylight thousands of times every year that you have probably never seen?" The answer is the actual detachment of a leaf from the tree. You see them falling after detachment, but rarely the actual detachment event. Probably nobody but me cares, but I've spent a lot of time fruitlessly trying to witness the event.

  125. An ode to leaf-raking. This is the story of my life in leafy Northwest Arkansas. I’ll go outside Monday morning (if we don’t have a blizzard) and rake and rake.

  126. Only a person who has never had to do 40+ hours a week of back-breaking labor would want landscaping crews - or anyone else, for that matter - to be deprived of their leaf blowing machines.

  127. @T-Bone It's true. But the blower is heavy. And the available power leads to over over-use. The rule should be "blow and go."

  128. @T-Bone Only a person who has never had an asthma attack, or never watched a child cough and gasp for air when an army of leaf blowers descends on neighboring properties, would advocate for the use of gas-powered leaf blowers. If you want your lawn to look like a golf course, move to a golf course community. Enough with destroying the planet and harming others simply to maintain a “clean lawn,” a lawn that in reality is so filled with toxins it kills pollinators and beneficial insects. Think I’m wrong? Look up the science. It supports everything I’ve written.

  129. I love this essay, but in the spirit of complexity and contradiction, I’ll accept that there is a place for my rake with its broken tines and leaf blowers too.

  130. I turned on the computer this morning braced for the news of the day. As I glanced over the headlines and titles, I chose this to read first. Thank you Margaret for starting my day with a moment of centering and peace.

  131. "Before you go inside, take a leaf into your hand. Put it on your desk or next to your bed. Keep it nearby, through whatever troubles the long winter brings. It will help you remember that nothing is ever truly over. It will help you remember what the wind always teaches us in autumn: that just because you can’t see something doesn’t mean it isn’t there." Love, love, love this. A little bit of hope in a seemingly ever-darkening world. Alas, the planet will keep on spinning, and the sun will keep on rising, far after we are gone.

  132. Ah, raking leaves against the prevailing political wind. Imagine an ultralight aircraft, not much more than a sturdy hang glider. One could couple it with a small propeller and one of those powerful backpack leaf blower engines to power it. South of the border the improvised aircraft are assembled by those who have walked this far, a thousand miles or more. The whining of the leaf blower engines begins to modulate as hundreds are started. In the clatter of the motors one can start to hear that song that's been stuck playing in your head. - "lord I was born a ramblin' ma-an" Over the wall float hundreds, thousands of leaf blower powered gliders. Destination: golf courses, estates and backyards all across the land. Backpacks blowing, sneakers on the ground, ready to work.

  133. Nothing makes me happier than to hear my husband out raking in the yard. And nothing makes him happier too. He’s a member of the “clean carpet club” seeking a leafless lawn. But I come out and remind I’m that it never ends. And we smile. Every year Leaf blowers are the worst. Thank you, Margaret, for an essay full of beauty and meaning.

  134. Leaf blower are almost as big a nuisance as mosquitoes! I cannot count how many times has a gorgeous Saturday afternoon on the porch swing has been ruined an endlessly whining leaf blower. And just as one neighbor stops, it seems another starts. Those "perfect" suburban lawns are so overrated.

  135. Another beautiful article by Renkl, along with Annelise Capossela's charming illustration. We need those quiet autumn moments to reflect on the past year, but in my suburban neighborhood, as soon as one lawn crew with the leaf blowers goes, another one comes in and the noise starts all over again.

  136. My husband and I recently bought a leaf blower. We use it in conjunction WITH the raking. The raking is therapy for our souls. The blower is therapy for our backs.

  137. @kmgh Hopefully you purchased an electric blower. Although your blower may be therapy for your back, a gas-powered leaf-blower is harmful to those in your community who suffer from respiratory issues and children and the elderly. One gas-powered leaf blower used for thirty-minutes is the equivalent of a 3,887 mile-drive in an F-150 truck. Compared to an average large car, one hour of operation of a leaf blower emits 498 times as much hydrocarbons, 49 times as much particulate matter and 26 times as much carbon monoxide. For those of us who suffer from asthma, gas-powered leaf blowers make it impossible for us to enjoy our outdoor spaces.

  138. @kmgh If you are dragging the rake, please try keeping both thumbs up on the handle and using a light sweeping motion. Might not be as hard on your backs.

  139. @AHP We only use electric or manual for all yard work.

  140. Uh, I'm sorry, I don't waste my time raking leaves. It's called mulching. Don't know how to mulch leaves, sorry it's proprietary.

  141. Thank you so very much for this little “Moment of Zen”. I will share this and read it again and again during this stressful time in our great Country. Can smell the scent of dry leaf piles my Dad would rake to the street to burn...but only after my sister, brother and I would jump into those piles for fun!

  142. Beautiful piece, thank you!

  143. Just like heaven...thank you, Margaret. I had already picked up my leaf earlier today...great minds!!

  144. Robert Frost Nature’s first green is gold, Her hardest hue to hold. Her early leaf’s a flower; But only so an hour. Then leaf subsides to leaf. So Eden sank to grief, So dawn goes down to day. Nothing gold can stay.

  145. In a democracy, both sides need to get used to losing and accepting that loss. Elections and legislative decision making are collective acts. They are decisions made for everyone in the society. Everyone. There will be swings back and forth between parties. Just look at the last 50 years. Sometimes a group will get legislation that it likes passed. Sometimes legislation will pass that some group doesn't like. Actually, that happens a lot. It is fundamental that losers accept the decision. Ds, Rs, liberals, radicals, whoever.

  146. what's odd is a blue state Repibican could read this piece and draw the exact same conclusion. It's beautifully written

  147. Beautiful essay, buy what does the subtitle have to do with it?

  148. @Doug Agree 100%. It is a gentle article not served by the hard political lead. It’s much less about what “a red-state liberal” thinks and much more about what a thoughtful, caring person thinks—and at a time when it is easy to turn away from gentleness.

  149. @Doug Everything.

  150. I just wait for the wind to blow the leaves onto my neighbor's yard. A woman down the street told me she hates that, but I reassured her that my leaves would never travel that far. I go inside, sip a nice cup of coffee and read a poem.

  151. Love this article - it reminds me of calmer times, and how we can reclaim them. Just one question though, what exactly does a centipede smell like?

  152. Like almonds or cherries. It’s hydrogen cyanide, exuded as a defense.

  153. @Dora the smell is variable and depends on the extent to which it has sweaty feet ;)

  154. "In almost every situation where something is loud, obnoxious and seemingly ubiquitous, resistance is an option." Yes, indeed. They're everywhere, not just in autumn, and not just for leaves. Any excuse for a leaf blower when a rake or broom would be perfectly excellent. Not 'loud and obnoxious', like some people... Years later I still have a mental picture of an elderly man in the driveway of a Hawaiian resort, leaning on his broom and gazing up at the full moon. Magic moments and poetry do not happen with a leaf blower. I always enjoy and/or am informed by your columns, this one was lovely. Thank you.

  155. Amen, amen. I'm the lone rake wielder in my neighborhood, and I have a very different perspective from most of suburbia. I am not removing leaves from the lawn (though that is what happens); I am harvesting them for my vegetable gardens, which I cover to a depth of maybe 2 ft. They settle over the winter, and in spring, I just rake them back where I want to plant. All this raking takes time, of course, but it is pleasant, contemplative time spent outdoors. A few hours a day, weather permitting, spread over several weeks, takes care of it. And finally, at some point, I say to myself, "Let it snow."

  156. @Ruth "I'm the lone rake wielder in my neighborhood" Same here (the same with snow: the only onues who use a shovel). But when it's really windy (like last week), I wait for another day.

  157. @Ruth I'm the sole raker in my community of row houses. Lawns are tiny, but still they have the blowers. I'm in an end unit, with more lawn than most, and not only do I rake it weekly, I also rake the community property on the other side of the sidewalk. The groundskeepers will come only once, in December when all the leaves are off the tress. I have no intention of waiting them and their industrial leaf blowers! I only hope they come on a day when I'm not at home.

  158. My lawn tractor is equipped with a mulching package on the mower deck, so lawn clippings get recycled into the lawn. In the fall I mow the leaves as many times as warranted, so they too get mulched into the soil. Other than maintaining a healthy crop of White Clover interspersed in my lawn, I rarely fertilize except for some granulated lime when needed.

  159. I do love raking the leaves in my driveway; taking in their scent and gorgeous colors close up, but elsewhere in the landscape, why not leave the leaves altogether? They are the best habitat for our native insects, the bees and moths and other pollinators who need their shelter to curl up in for the winter, and the microorganisms who need their nutrients to make healthy soil. It's much less work, too!

  160. Last winter I was alone at home for seven weeks as my partner attended her dying father out of state. The gingko tree, which had glowed gold during fall, finally surrendered its glory during a windstorm. Usually, my partner does the raking. Alone, I considered the mattress of fading leaves covering the lawn and realized it was up to me. We don't own a leaf blower (I refuse), and out came the rake. I raked and piled and hauled leaves for two hours, filling my lungs with the air and scents Mr. Renkl describes, watching the scraggly lawn emerge as the piles grew, feeling my arms tire, and considering the cycles of life.

  161. An alternative to raking: mow the lawn - the lawn mower breaks up the leaves so they don’t smother the grass and instead return nutrients to the soil. This is also way easier than clearing leaves.

  162. @walkman Unless you have a very heavy layer of leaves, leaves will not smother a lawn. Breaking up the leaves certainly returns nutrients to the soil but if you leave the leaves you allow pollinators and other beneficial insects to overwinter. And of course, the leaves will biodegrade on their own over winter. But frankly, I’ll take someone mowing their leaves any day over the army of leaf blowers that visit our neighborhood on a daily basis.

  163. @walkman It's a metaphor! !

  164. As I read, my breathing slowed and my blood pressure went down. A soothing balm. Thank you.

  165. Beautiful. Thank you Margaret for this gift of sanity this morning. It moved me to tears.

  166. I have a Norway maple in the front yard; I rake its leaves, carrying the tar spot fungus, put them into a compost patch and cover them so the wind cannot take their spores next spring. Everything else I mulch in place with the mulching mower. Some years the snow and ice come in a wet early storm that brings down leaves. The mess freezes to the ground, nothing you can do about that until next spring. The sheeted leaves cut off oxygen to the soil below; you get mold and patches of grass will die. Next spring you clean up and reseed. There's a political metaphor in all of this, too.

  167. @Lee Harrison: I am not sure at all that composting tar spot fungus is a great idea. Even burying fungus might just preserve it and make it thrive. This as a good an argument for BURNING leaves as I have ever heard.

  168. @Lee Harrison Hurray for the mulching mower! I mulch grass and leaves in place too. I don't even bother getting the leaves in piles anymore, the mulched leaves will just blow somewhere. I never use fertilizer on my lawn and it is and stays way greener than the lawns that get inundated with fertilizer/herbicide and watered every day.

  169. @GvN We are three generations living together in New Hampshire. My daughter and granddaughter take turns using the mulching mower on the leaves from the huge oaks that line two sides of our yard. Many neighbors blow or rake theirs to the curb where, if the wind hasn't blown them away, they are sucked up by a big truck that comes around each neighborhood once. Otherwise you are supposed to collect them in large paper "leaf bags" for pickup. I like our way better!

  170. Now might be the time to walk over to your neighbors yard and rake it for them - showing how simple and effective - and quite - it can be. Be the rake.

  171. Oh my...exactly where I was at yesterday with the rake in hand pushing the complications of my life away with each swipe of the tines on leaves! Beautiful words and so true. A confession though, my little blower is sometimes used for its efficiency, getting into those corners you just can't get to! Not so evil! Again such lovely and perfect thoughts to make a chore into a delight!

  172. What a beautiful, beautiful piece … and people in red states - even more than the rest of us - need to find comfort wherever they can. Maybe, the results in Georgia and Texas suggest a half-full glass to some, … although I'm afraid, not me. OTOH, places like Michigan and Wisconsin seem to have found something like an "early spring," and maybe, some day, we'll get back to understanding that along with different ways of talking "down South" and in border states, there are different ways of thinking. (Not sure who's doing much thinking in Tennessee these days, but I'm too far away to do any more than shake my head at how a reasonable & popular Dem. down there could get smooshed.) No metaphor holds up perfectly, but when you think of "mother nature" at this time, you have to look at California and shake your head... Until you think of what happened just a few days before - with yet another deranged individual ending many lives - for no reason. We mostly get how nature is SO very powerful and somewhat unpredictable, but human beings supposedly move in less random ways. How can thousands of elected Republicans look at themselves in the mirror as they choose between something like silence and whatever degree of cheerleading they provide our Hitlerian President?! This isn't some obscure part of history. It isn't even like the Civil War, where an alternate history survives. Every HS grad gets the good vs. evil battle from 1935-45, but 40% of them are choosing "evil" day after day!

  173. I have lived on Apelgatan for 22 years, a street so named because in 1945 when post-war homes were built, at least 2 apple trees were planted in the yards. When the leaves begin to fall, so too the apples, which become "fallfrukt" that in turn can become apple juice and applesauce. The only sounds heard here are of kids playing, lots of them thanks to my new neighbors at 5 and 9. No blowers. My leaves and apples are lifted by team Jabbar and Larry after raking. Soldier Jabbar walked from Iran into Iraq just before the Iran-Iraq war ended. The UN sent him here to Sweden where he, unable to read or write his two mother tongues, Farsi and Arabic, learned to speak, read, and write Swedish and thus could become my friend thanks to the Red Cross "Träffpunkten". Each year he asks the same question, why do we rake today when more leaves will fall tomorrow? The leaves and apples go to my local recycling center and then to appropriate futures. Do as Margaret Renkl suggests, either when you rest or in a forest if you have one near. "Give yourself over to what is happening in the sky. Watch the leaves...Watch the wind...listen." And if you write in notebooks as I do, currently My So-Called 13th Life, put a leaf in to become part of the page on which you wrote, "Raked leaves today". Only-NeverInSweden.blogspot.com Citizen US SE

  174. What a wonderful essay! Who can add anything to it? I’m grateful for it; I find it quite beautiful.

  175. I am impressed she writes about leave blowers and rakes better than I do.