Each autumn I look around the yard at the stuff I have to do.
|These birches at the edge of our yard are only partly "deleafed," so there's no point in trying to rake them. Besides, why rake them? Photo by Milt Gross.|
Like raking leaves. I often wonder why I have to do that chore. When I was a kid, we raked them, piled them up, and burned then. After I grew up -- sort of -- and left home, that Pennsylvania town outlawed burning leaves. Not sure why. Too much smoke? Too much fun?
In Maine, I used to rake and burn the leaves. A couple of years ago, I stopped burning them, but I still raked them. Now I had two or three piles of leaves here and there. And they awaited disposing.
Ever the clever, conservationist type guy, I looked around the yard. I saw the veggie garden. Veggies all gone. Some straw to mulch part of the garden, producing earth and enriching the soil. But there wasn't enough straw.
I looked at the leaves, and the lack of straw coupled in my fall-yard-chores mind with those piles of leaves. What happens to all those leaves in the woods, such as the 45,000 acres of Acadia National Park or in the who-know-how-many-acres of Appalachian Trail corridor leaves. No one rakes them. Why aren't they about ten feet deep?
Fall disclosure came slowly, but it came. Those leaves in yonder woods rotted, turned to soil. I raked those piles of leaves in our yard to the garden, so they could decompose into soil for next spring. I knew leaves weren't as sweet as straw, so I picked a spot where more acidity stuff grew.
The leaves went there, and last spring I had some leaves left along with some soil.
Other fall chores. Drag the lawnmower into the cellar. It rolls easily across the back lawn, but bumps and thumps down the cellar stairs. I give it a shove to the spot where it will rest unmolested until next spring.
Next, that wheeled gadget that holds 100 feet of garden hose and is connected to a spigot on the side of the house. The spigot on the house never fits correctly to the end of the hose. In the spring, I man the vice grips to tighten the two together. In the fall, back to the vice grips.
Today, I had to spray with the "full" hose nozzle to clean some leftover kitty stuff off the bottom of the kitty litter box. I turned the water on, aimed the nozzle, and nothing came out. I fooled with the nozzle. Nothing happened -- almost as bad as Congress getting things done.
As when I think about Congress' "work," a few religious words leave my used-to-be-Presbyterian lips.
Checked the thing that holds the hoses. Saw water spurting out from somewhere. Aha, the spigot at the house was working. Unwound all the hose until I found the spurting spot. I saw flat, sharply angled pieces of hose just beyond that. Straightened them out with more ex-Presbyterian words. Then I saw more of those kinks, fixed them and saw more.
Done. All kinks unkinked. Still no water from the nozzle. I played with that again, and found that the present setting wasn't working. I turned the nozzle to another setting. Water sprayed out quite hard. A half-hour search to find the nozzle on a wrong setting...it was a right setting, just that the setting had decided over the summer to stop spraying.
Wound all the hose back up, unfastened it from the house and dragged the wheeled hose-holding monster around back to the cellar. Of course, the end of the hose that had been connected to the house caught on every corner it could find. More religious words, but I finally got it to the cellar door.
Dragged, banged and bumped it into its winter home.
That's two chores done.
I still have some potatoes to dig and some carrots to pull out of their bed. Then I have to buy more straw to mulch the garden. This year I'm not using the leaves. Too much of a fall chore. If those leaves can form earth in the garden, why not on the lawn? We'll find out.
Dolores thinks leaves left on the lawn are ugly. I think of the word "mulch."
I have to get out the weed whacker, which needs some new line I have to get from Home Depot. Well, I'll trim those weeds behind the garden later, after I buy the new weed whacker line. I do have the good old heavy clippers. Later I'll clip back all those little trees that start growing where i don't want them. At the edge of the porch, almost up to the back bedroom windows, and, of course, in the flower gardens.
Oh, yes, I have to dig up a tiny spruce, move a wheelbarrow load of dirt to where I want to replant it, and then replant it. Maybe next week.
The front walk, composed of pine mulch chips, has given in to the tiny weeds that grow through it. Need to put more pine chips down on the walk...both walks, front and back. But first, that same Home Depot stop for bags of pine chips.
Just remembered, each fall I add some air in all eight tires of both cars, so they will have enough air as the weather cools.
Don't need Home Depot for that, just the electric tire pump and gauge waiting patiently in the shed. Wonder if they'll mind waiting for another week or two.
Is it Thanksgiving yet? Will it snow soon, so I can stop doing those chores? When it does, I can sit inside with a cup of coffee and contemplate the other chores. The inside ones.
I have to repaint a strip alongside the shower, replace a board above the shower that holds the shower nozzle, paint some trim on the house -- outside and inside, and some other stuff I'm trying hard not to remember.
This is what makes life in the country or suburbs worth living. All those wonderful chores, combined with the crisp smell of autumn.
I could go outdoors again and pound my chest, because I'm so proud of all the chores that I do. (Never mind the ones that won't get done.)
But I can't go out and pound my chest. I'm too tired to get up.
My grandfather used to love to walk in the woods in the fall, scuffling the leaves with his feet. I've thought about doing that.
But if I'm too tired to step outside and pound my chest, well....you know.
The joys of the chores of autumn.
|Pine needles this year cover our driveway and part of our yard. Kind of hard to rake. Why rake them anyway? Photo by Milt Gross.|
Milt Gross can be reached for corrections, harassment, or other purposes at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Milton M. Gross Copyright 2013