Yardwork, or “Why Did I Ever Submit to Home Ownership?”

Maybe this post should have been the “Weekend Workers” post I had up a week ago because I/we certainly did more, worked longer and made more significant accomplishments that we did slaving over the creation of our new grill (which has, by the way, now been used three times already — for steak for me on Saturday evening, chicken to shred for Janetʼs lunch salads all week, and burgers yesterday evening for supper). So what was the successful home busy-ness? Number one: the annual raking has begun.

The price we pay for our lovely trees (as long as the two ashes survive) is the autumnal harvest of truckloads of leaves we must rake to the street and load in the bed of my Nissan Frontier every year (we would leave them for the city to collect, but the city doesnʼt send its crews around until mid or late November, way too late to do any good; I guess the city guys are too busy turning streets in town into gravel roads — officially known as pretty incompetent sealcoating, for which I am glad our street does not seem to have qualified this year). On Sunday, having arisen brightly at 8:15 (and gone to sleep at 2:00, sad to report), I got outdoors and down to work significantly before 9:00, and more than two and a half hours before The Lovely One returned from Milwaukee and her Fall Festivus with sister Diane.

First up was removing our window air conditioners for the cool weather and winter, which went pretty easily this year, even though the guest bedroom device is being stored on its side until next summer (I hope it still works then). Then I put the window screens back in place and with several dozen big sighs pulled out the rakes to begin clearing the first yard-full of leaves for 2010. Arriving home from school Friday evening, I realized that the leaf-falling had gotten serious and that I would have to rake soon. A further realization that I needed to mow the lawn, to keep the grass short enough to rake through, made the prospect of a day with a leaf rake in hands imminent.

I noticed some years ago that the ashes drop their photosynthesis factories first, and yesterday almost entirely that is what I was raking and raking. Looking up once at the house, I discovered I had another chore as well: the gutters were stuffed with leaves (and I had heard that it might rain on Monday, although that forecast had changed by yesterday evening). So I quit what I was doing, mid-raking, and dragged out the step ladder and leaf blower, along with a hundred feet of extension cord, and clambered aloft repeatedly to stage-by-stage blow clear the gutters along the front and sides of the house. (I am just delighted to report that as of 6:00 PM, with the ashes still raining leaves all day, those gutters look pretty much the same as they did when I started.)

A friend (our doctor) stopped by as he left church to razz me about things, as he likes to do, and we had a pleasant visit (I even updated him on my lipoma-ectomy). But he gave me an idea when he jokingly remarked that I was supposed to be on the rooftop for the gutter-cleaning. As I kept working, I decided when the wife got home, using her as spotter, I would try his system to perhaps work faster (and do the rear gutters, two storeys aloft). Unfortunately, once I was up on the slope, I got creeped out even before Janet could hand me the leaf blower from her place atop the step ladder. I slid on my rear all the way back to the antenna tower I used to climb up there. Sigh. (We decided that my acrophobia, which never affects me climbing up and around in all sorts of insanely stupid and dangerous ways to hang lights and do chores — like my normal routine to blow out the gutters — is one more monkeylike thing about me: I like to have something to hold onto or heights spook the bejeezus from me. Like Tarzan, I am a brachiator.)

Before my aerial rooftop emotional disaster, I tried combining the fun of blowing the leaves and the superior leaf-removal of the rake. I scraped and pulled the leaves to the front and the street. Janet returned, about 11:15, in time to help clear the west side with me. Then I mowed the grass (evidently two supposed frosts hadnʼt stopped the growing season for our yard: it needed mowing if I was going to be able to rake again, and I will need to rake again and again and again…), a chore that lasted until about 2:00 when it was time to start loading leaves in the truck for transportation to the cityʼs yard waste dump site. Four loads later (although the last one didnʼt even fill the bed halfway) we were done, so I sat down here to pen a little post and felt uninspired about revisiting Alaska in my mind yet. So you get to read about leaf-raking. Pure bliss, I am sure.

The whole day did make me realize that I have a poem to post one day soon (undoubtedly this week, since a poem with introduction and explanation seems to go faster than a full-fledged post like this one, and this is going to be a busy week). The poem is about raking leaves, written back when I first came to town and lived in the little house on Emma Court.

The sad part is I know I have at least three or four more leaf-raking sessions ahead of me…

Posts have run long even when I didnʼt think they would, so I will keep this one from being more excessive than it is already. A new week has begun. Itʼs officially Columbus Day in the United States, and I am at school being a substitute teacher (and I hope learning pages of lines for Picasso). Something else for tomorrow.

©2010 John Randolph Burrow, Magickal Monkey Enterprises, Ltd, S.A.

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