I walk a lot. At least some would say I do. It’s all a matter of perspective, I suppose. I try to walk at least one hour every day. When a person walks as much as I do they tend to learn a lot about the people and the places they walk by. Most days I look forward to my walks.
However, there are only a limited number of walking routes available to me if I want to stay within my one-hour walking limit. So, wherever I walk has to begin and end at my home – I am not driving my car to some out of the way place just to grab a change of scenery. And unfortunately or fortunately, depending on one’s perspective, I pass by some of the same places almost every day. In my little town, there are not enough unique places that lie within a good one hour’s walk. But that’s fine with me.
Over the years I’ve learned which stores are struggling, which ones are having sales, and so on. I’ve also learned a lot about people, such as which homeowners are obsessed with their lawns, which ones don’t care how weed-free and greens their lawns are, which ones have huge riding lawnmowers they use on their postage-stamp-sized lawns, which ones try to outdo their neighbors with Christmas dazzle, and so on.
Right now, it’s November, and we’re just a tad past the midpoint of autumn and my walks have been increasingly encroached upon by those who have almost a clinical obsession with autumn leaves. Apparently, they despise those autumn leaves that dared to fall upon their real estate.
Where I live we have mostly deciduous trees and only a few pines. Maple, birch, oak sycamore, acorn, and chestnut trees abound. I live in a squirrels paradise! So, I can tell you having lived my entire life here, come mid-October there is a copious amount of leaves strewn across lawns and fields alike. Leaves, leaves. everywhere, and not one of them is green. They are all brown with tiny faded blotches of autumnal color. Once resplendent on the hillsides and tree lawns blazing with brilliant yellows, oranges, and reds, they now clutter the ground – crispy, brittle, and brown.
And for some reason, most people declare war on these frangible leftovers of summer forgetting about the times when they provided shade for lemonade and beer-swilling outdoor party goers and the cookout cliques.
This time of year, my afternoon walks are more and more frequently disturbed by the discordant and vexatious sound of leaf blowers toted by the aggressive and obsessed leaf militia who have declared war on the already fallen leaves.
Leaf blowers have gotten more powerful and more ear-splitting and cacophonous recently. Even my walks on the lonely woodland boardwalk have been disturbed by the obsessed leaf militia. The horrid grating sounds of leaf blowers blowing leaves back into the wood from whence most of them came.
The leaf blowers with which the fanatical leaf militia are armed with are not toys. Some, like this Toro 51621, blows air out its formidable nozzle at the rate of 250 MPH (402 KPH) that’s blasting air at tornadic velocities.
I don’t understand this passion for moving leaves from one place to another. Or what good it does to have a lawn clean and leaf-free.
I’ve been walking every day for many years and every autumn I observe the fanatical leaf militia obsessed with removing every crispy brown leaf from their lawns.
If you’re a leaf hater, let me put your mind at ease. You can put your Toro 51621, 250 MPH leaf blower in your spring garage sale.
Last year, in mid-November, I made a point of taking photos of lawns whisked clean by the leaf militia and those whose owners let the leaves pile up on the lawn. My theory was that by summer, the yards belonging to leaf militia owners and those belonging to those who could not care less how many leaves piled up on their lawns, would look exactly the same.
And they did.
I can only conclude that the leaf militia either does not know this or they have chosen to ignore this because wielding those big crazy-noisy, 250-MPH leaf blowers makes them happy or gives them something to do.
It’s not my business how people waste their time, it’s only my business to observe it.
Today the woods were lovely and full of leaves. The forest floor is cluttered with crunchy, brittle brown leaves, and squirrels scurrying around gathering and hiding nuts. When next summer comes, all the leaves will go unnoticed, buried under a summer-green patina – and the squirrels will still be running about doing whatever squirrels do in summer.
I love walking and I love observing. And the best thing I can say about today? The autumn world I’m observing doesn’t even know I exist.