It’s November 2oth and gosh darn it is also a gorgeous day in central Virginia – 71° and slightly overcast. It’s the type of day where you look at your front lawn and hear it whine “Rake me! Rake me!” I hear this whine often each year – it calls to me when my body is simultaneously bitching for exercise – and regardless of the temperature, I get out there and rake.

Clad in shorts and a T-short, I began the tedious task that most homeowners must endure each fall. Hubby was inside watching an episode of “Boardwalk Empire,” and I didn’t give him a hard time about helping me. He’s put in 21 hours of overtime in the past  2 weeks. The least I could do was let the poor guy catch up on his latest HBO guilty pleasure. But I asked him to come out after the show was over and to bring the blower.

I’m a rake kind of gal – old fashioned about leaf raking to the core. I like seeing the trails left in the grass from the tines of the rake. I like that it gets up all the thatch as well as the leaves. I bag my leaves, but I also like to use a more rustic method of leave removal. I have this old bedspread from my grandparent’s bed…it’s white with these little popcorn like pilly things all over it. It’s thin and it’s old and it’s got a stain that no amount of bleach will get out, but I use it constantly. During the summer it’s my beach blanket. In the fall, it’s my leaf catcher.

I spread that puppy out on the lawn and rake the quantity of roughly 3 garbage bags worth of leaves onto it. I then gather up the sides, and feeling much like a true Slovak woman, sling it over my shoulder and carry it to the back of our yard. There is a small copse of trees between our property and the road behind it and this is where we send all our un-bagged leaves. Each year the leaves break down – I bet that soil below is the richest on our whole property.

This pile is probably waist deep

After an hour or so, I had half the yard cleared and looked achingly at the other half….that side hadn’t been raked even once yet. The leaves were thick, but I was determined to get the entire front yard clear. I kept at it, raking, catching my breath, raking, catching my breath. This went on for a length of time that made me seriously question the state of my health, and then, like a magic bullet, I got my second wind.

I must have made at least 23 trips from the front of the yard to the back to dump my blanket full of leaves, each time wanting to wittily ask my neighbor “who planted all these trees anyway?” but he was working on some sort of carpentry project and never looked up when I was looking at him. Fuck it, we never really talk anyway, but that’s the subject for another blog post.

I also got the serious heebeejeebees when I went to gather up the corners of my blanket only to see a big, giant, hairy, black, disgustingly wretched spider near where my hand was. I, of course, squealed in horror, threw down the blankete and stomped frantically on the spot where the spider had been. After my heart resumed to a normal rhythm I gingerly pulled back the corner of the blanket to see a very dead, curled up spider. Ick. I kept wondering if that little shit had any friends waiting for me in other piles of leaves, eager to avenge their friends death.

With hubby on the blower, and me using the rake/bagging/blanket haul combo, we managed to get our entire front yard relatively clear of leaves. Now, I have to admit the photo at the beginning of the blog bums me out a bit. There are, after all, still leaves on the lawn. That bothers me – if I’m going to risk a massive coronary for my front yard, I at least want it absolutely leaf free. For a minute.

Paper or Plastic?

After all the bags were lined up along the driveway, and the rakes put away, I realized something. This was the first year since roughly 1997, that a child of mine did not jump into a pile of leaves. I guess my almost 10 year old daughter has lost all interest in that fall activity. I remember giving her the option the first time I raked before Halloween, and she just sorta shrugged and went back to riding her scooter.


There went the last fun thing about raking the leaves.