Every year I hear more and more people saying that Autumn is their favorite time of the year, a time to slip into forgiving bulky sweaters, ride on hay wagons and go apple picking. After all, Autumn is beautiful here in Michigan. The humidity goes away, the air is crisp and clean, and the leaves turn into picture-book colors. But I don't like it.
Autumn gives me a vague sense of dread. I don't know why. The cooler temps offset those menopausal thermal events, I thoroughly enjoy clean air and apples, and I have some great bulky sweaters. So why is Gir singing the Doom Song inside my head? At first I thought it was the memory of being a kid who wasn't ready for the new school year. Then I thought maybe it was a metaphor for where I am in life, winding down from summer fun and headed towards dormancy. But a couple weekends ago I realized what I actually hate about it - it's the damn leaves! They fall. And fall. And FALL. And then we have to rake them all up before they kill the grass or turn into a slippery death trap. So Autumn is okay, but Fall sucks.
One of the things that made me fall in love with my house is that we are situated on an acre and a half of huge trees. They form a beautiful, thick, rustling canopy all summer, obscuring the neighbors houses and shielding our water-phobic dog from the rain. They burst into vibrant reds and yellows in Autumn, beautiful to look at until they drift down to form a thick carpet on the yard (and the driveway and the porch) until the pile is almost as tall as one of Michigan's treasured landfills.
Having our house up for sale this Fall added a new wrinkle to the annual leaf aggravation. Every time we have a showing we have to pick up all the leaves so potential buyers will think the woodland creatures keep our big lawn clean and tidy. Raking is impossible. It takes too long, and random tines point off at 45-degree angles so you always leave little leaf trails behind you.
We have an electric-powered leaf blower but there is definitely a knack to using it. If you don't wave it with the right momentum in just the right pattern, all the leaves just blow in a big arc over your head and settle down behind you. Just when you find your rhythm the cord vibrates loose and falls on the ground. Eventually you get creative enough to figure a way to tie the cord in a knot around the handle so it can't shake loose. This is effective for about six steps until you stretch the extension cord to its limit, straining to blow away the leaves that are juuuuust outside your reach. So frustrating!
This year was different. We called in the big guns and borrowed a super-powerful (and super-heavy) backpack blower. I don't know the brand but I think it was powered with a hydroplane engine and looked like something the Ghostbusters would use to suck up ectoplasm. Senior strapped it on and cleaned up most of the lawn before his shoulders gave out. He made it look easy, so I decided to give it a whirl. He gave me a quick tutorial, idled the engine, and pointed me toward the steepest downhill part of the yard where it's easiest to move the leaves.
I felt pretty cool as I headed out with one hand on the throttle, ready to decimate leaves and the StayPuft marshmallow man. I got into position and gave it some juice. The blower roared into life and immediately sent a small tornado into the yard, literally knocking me on my butt as leaves, twigs and squirrels flew into the air.
I managed to get back upright, fix my stance and work my way down the hill, waving the blower wand in spastic arcs that moved the stagnant leaves off the ground. It was still slow going and the pack was crushingly heavy, but blowing wave after wave of damp leaves off the grass and into the woods was as satisfying as peeling the label off my beer bottles.
After coming under attack by our new arsenel, the trees threw in the white flag of defeat. At last our lawn was bare. Yeah, we ain't afraid of no leafs.