The joy of leaf blowing

November 23, 2014

I don’t believe that my husband was intentionally keeping me away from our leaf blower. Quite the opposite, in fact. I’m sure he would have been thrilled had I woken up one weekend morning asking whether it was gassed up and ready for use. In the division of labor that had been in effect regarding yard work, he was Leaf Blower Guy and I was Rake and Drag the Tarp-full to the Woods Woman.

This year, however, he is shoulder deep in our kitchen renovation, thereby leaving the task of leaf removal to me. Last weekend being a quintessential autumn weekend, I asked where to find the blower. He dropped what he was doing and promised to get it ready. A few minutes later he reappeared peeling off layers of clothing and muttering under his breath about some hose that had come loose, dousing him in gasoline. It was not a straightforward fix.

Undaunted, I headed out with the rake and my best whistling tunes. Our neighbor spied me and my slow progress against the tide of leaves in our yard, and offered up his industrial strength leaf blower. He showed me how to control the strength of the blast, and how to refill it, and helped me strap it over my shoulders. I was off! Hearing the noise, within minutes my husband appeared, thinking I had decided to use our own blower, unheeding of the fact that I would reek of eau de gas. He burst out laughing when he saw me, declaring that I had a huge ear splitting grin on my face.

I was not aware of this; I was just amazed at the power at my fingertips. Like a magic wand, each way I pointed it, the leaves would dance their way toward the spot. How incredibly satisfying. The blower would have relocated chipmunks and squirrels with no problem, but fortunately there were none in my path.

As I wove my way around the yard, creating piles to be carried off later, or sending streams of leaves into adjacent woods, I realized I had found my new vocation. I could rent myself out as a leaf blower and do this all day for weeks. Hours of delight with such tangible results.

Although the blower could remove layers of moss, create divots, or worse, one thing it did not budge, I realized, was bear scat. It took a moment to realize what this dense substance was, but no other animal around was large enough to leave gifts like this in our yard. Could the afternoon get any better? Evidence of our bear friend decorated several sites on the grass, thereby disproving the adage about where a bear, well, you know, eliminates.

I was out until night descended, reluctant to give up my fun, although comforted by knowing I would get another crack at it the next day. After first raking and then spending a happy hour blowing off other work on Sunday, I ran out of gas and returned the tool to our neighbor. Saying goodbye to my new buddy, I felt some releaf about what I had accomplished. And I could dream of new ballets to choreograph in red, yellow and orange with the magic of the leaf blower.

Meg Stafford can be reached looking at catalogues of yard tools at megstaf@aim.com

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