Monday, November 18, 2013

I Wonder If Sisyphus Noticed Anything Odd About His Task

My mom has a thing about leaves. She can't stand to have crunchy autumn leaves in her yard. That would be fine if she had a gardener. A lawn boy. A groundskeeper. But she does not. She is a septuagenarian. And she lives in the woods.

Countless times I have told Mom not to worry about the leaves. Countless times she's told me they kill the grass. Grass. One would think Mom lives on the South Lawn of the White House. In the outfield of Fenway Park. On a football pitch frequented by Manchester United. She does not.

Mom lives in the woods. The grass of which she speaks is a fringe around the front porch finer than the finest of fine frog hairs. It has to be mowed, in the manner a monk with a fringe of hair must keep it trimmed or look like an unkempt bed ruffle. Must cut those strands of monky hair unless he plans to coil them into some grand bouffant comb-over to protect the middle of his scalp from ultraviolet rays. Removing dead leaves from Mom's yard will not make the canopy spread to allow sunlight to penetrate to the forest floor, thus thickening her fine fringe of grass.

The method Mom uses to keep her leaves at bay is to blow them. She rakes them over to the garage area, where the cord of her electric leaf-blower will reach. Then she blows them over to the little creek. Never mind that overnight, Mother Nature and Even Steven join forces to waft those leaves back into Mom's yard. She thinks more are falling off the trees. So she rakes. And blows.

Far be it from me to deprive Mom of her favorite fall pastime. I can only advise. I'm just worried that she may break an ankle falling through a mole trail. She's not that concerned about the mole. Oh, she doesn't like him hollowing out her yard underneath those fallen leaves. But she's not gonna go all Bill Murray Caddyshack on him. The spinning metal sunflowers didn't work. Oh, well. Case of rum, case of rum. That's what Kelly Bundy would say.

So this morning, on our 6:00 a.m. phone call, Mom said that her Check Mix neighbor had called to see if she was all right after the storm passed through. "Do you have any leaves in your yard?" Mom replied that she did not have a single leaf. However, she went on to tell me that for a couple of days, she'd had a big limb that broke off a tree on her property, and was hanging partway on the road. Since that is just a blacktop outer road since the new two-lane highway went in many years ago, there's hardly any traffic except for the livers on that thoroughfare. She was not all that worried about the limb. She had thought of calling for Hick and The Pony to drag it into the yard, but they were at bowling Saturday, and Hick had been gone Friday to Jefferson City.

"Did you know that after the storm, I looked out, and that limb was gone? I walked up the driveway to see, and it was across the road in the ditch! I thought maybe I'd better get it in case there was an accident, but it was off the road, finally. Then I saw my neighbor. That new weird guy. He was walking down his driveway with one of his adult kids. I hollered, 'Hey, did you take my limb?' And he said, 'Yeah. Do you want it back?' And I said, 'Well, I can take it back if it's in your way.' And he said, 'I was going to cut it up to put in my fireplace.' So I said he could have it."

Yeah. Mom doesn't see that as weird. A guy taking her limb right after a storm, so she'd think it blew across the road. Nor does she see three bags of hedgeapples appearing on her porch as weird. And she certainly doesn't think a septuagenarian blowing leaves from the woods into a dry creek where they can blow right back overnight is weird.

But chewing on a sweet dog's nose seems odd to her.


  1. Your mom cracks me up. Blowing leaves back into the creek? Priceless!

  2. Our neighbour two houses up loved to rake leaves. She would be out there for hours, raking, raking, raking. She would rake the leaves as they fell. Sadly, we knew she had lost it when one night she was out in the pouring rain raking leaved. Bless her heart, she went into a nursing home. I wonder if she misses her leaves?

  3. I guess leaves can be a lot like snowflakes. If you wait until they stop falling before you move them out of the way you can end up immobilized. On the other hand, just stepping to the side and letting the problem blow by, like a rock rolling down a hill, is the better choice. The challenge is knowing.

  4. Stephen,
    It's not even a wet creek! At least a wet creek might waterlog those leaves for a few days, or wash them a few hundred feet away. This one only runs during a heavy rain. So, basically, Mom blows her leaves across the yard onto a bare expanse of smooth rock. Why that dry creek floats her boat I'll never know.

    Or maybe she just sensed that the pouring rain would be the perfect time to rake leaves into a creek...

    At least Mom doesn't shovel snow. She saves the ashes from her fireplace in a big plastic bucket, and scatters it in two lines for tire tracks in her driveway. Sun hits ashes...snow underneath melts. I really don't like her going out in the snow. But she swears she's okay because she puts a pair of socks on over her shoes. For traction.

    Last year, I gave her some of those stretchy springy things that fit over your shoe soles. For traction.

  5. I hope I can still move leaves when I am in my 70's. What am I saying .... I am 60, I will be 70 before you know it!

  6. Kathy,
    You'll be moving. Driving your golf cart while pulling a rake, a pair of old pantyhose wrapped around your neck like a winter scarf.