Two weeks ago, I was wearing a t-shirt and summer pants. Today, I’m in a heavy sweater and corduroys.
And I’m looking out the dining room window right now and the grass is almost covered with leaves, and the Hawthorn tree’s red berries are shining in the sunlight.
Remember the days when getting rid of leaves meant using a rake? (Ask a young person what a leaf rake is. I’ll wait.) The neighborhood would be full of people raking leaves in their yards, and then everyone would rake their piles into the street – after the kids and dogs jumped into the piles. Then the grownups would set them alight, and we’d all stand around watching the fire and inhaling burning leaf smoke. I still remember that smell and the feeling of being cold in the back, warm in the front. And then someone would brush the ashes into the center of the street, we’d douse them with water, and then the hose spigots would get shut down for the winter.
But for a long time now, with the first falling leaves I’ve braced for the start of the endless noise of leaf blowers all over the neighborhood. Even if I keep my hearing aids in the drawer, those blowers still sound like they’re in the same room with you.
I would like to not be in such a rush to get rid of the fallen leaves. They look pretty when they catch the light. (Yesterday I brought in a perfect, citrine-colored Sugar Maple leaf and set it on the window sill to admire, and then a helpful person tossed it in the bin.)
So, I’ve been reading up on alternatives for next year, and found a few interesting ideas instead of raking/blowing, bagging and waving them goodbye as the city picks up the bags…
Let them stay where they fall, and try chopping them with a mulching mower.
Rake them up and use them as mulch. For finer-textured mulch, you can shred them first.
Let leaf piles decompose, and in the spring, you can use the resulting leaf mold to amend your soil.
Compost them by piling them up with grass clippings. Keep them moist and in the spring, you’ll have a rich compost for your garden.
It’s not that I’m lazy (I am), because it’s not me out there with noise-cancelling headphones and a mouth full of leaf bits. But I am wondering if “just because we’ve always done it that way” is a reason to keep doing it that way.
What do you think?