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CritterPainter's Blog

Various ramblings of a country gal


raking oak leaves

Category: gardening among the rocks | Posted: Sat Nov 08, 2008 2:21 am

As I was scooping my fifth pile of soggy oak leaves into the wheelbarrow today, I heard through the trees the distinct sound of my neighbor starting up a leaf blower. My lower spine was intensely jealous. My senses, unbiased by pain, just laughed.
Why is it that oak leaves that have fallen to the ground have such a warm, spicy smell to them? I'm certain they never do when they are green. It arrives somehow with the cold and damp, perfectly complementing a cup of hot cider, with it's sweet-sour bite, sipped on a break. I'd never trade that rich smell for the stench of gas exhaust.
The leathery, crisp feel of autumn leaves has no match for conjuring up memories. One armload of leaves and I'm transported back to a vacant lot near where I grew up, a lot with a huge old tree in the middle. The nuns who lived next door had raked all the leaves into a pile then gone in, for tea I suppose. My 8 year old self took full advantage of the situation. One never touches leaves with a blower.
My neighbor wears safety goggles while leaf blowing. Pity. One has to get really close to oak leaves to see the incredible variety of browns there, the speckles of deepest umber, the streaks of near-yellow, the last brave tints of green.
Even when they are soggy-wet, as they were today, freshly fallen oak leaves have a very satisfying crackle to them as they are crushed down into the wheelbarrow. Or swept across the grass. My but the leaf blower was deafening when she moved closer to my edge of the property.
Don't get me wrong, if I'd been using a blower my yard would be leaf-free by now so I do see the advantage. I have miles to go before I am finished raking, and liniment only does so much for a sore back. But raking does so much for my soul, I think I'll stick with that.


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