Sunday, November 13, 2011

Leaf Me Alone

I feel much the same way about raking leaves as I do about grocery shopping—I dread it, I avoid it, I think that I hate it, but when I’m actually doing it it’s pretty fun, and afterwards it’s gratifying—especially if I’ve gotten to shop somewhere loaded with organic produce and short on crazy junk food. (Don’t get me wrong, I do love me some crazy junk food, I just don’t like to be bombarded by it—or by the cartoony mega-corporate packaging or loud overhead muzak associated with it. My ideal grocery store would carry all organic, fresh, local everything—plus Quaker Oat Squares, Wheaties, cinnamon Pop Tarts, Tostitos brand corn chips, and the occasional block of Velveeta with which to make cheese dip. Oh, also Kit-Kats, Coca-Cola, and Budweiser.)

When it comes to leaf raking, I appreciate a dry, level yard with minimal ground shrubbery or evergreens for the leaves to get tangled up in—all things I took for granted when I lived in Iowa. Just as I took for granted “leaf collection day” on which a large truck with a giant hose comes along and sucks up all the leaves you’ve piled by the curb and takes them off to the mulch factory or whatever.

Our yard is wet, severely steep, and loaded with evergreens and ground shrubbery—not to mention a very, very old, beautiful and prolific maple and a very, very, very old, beautiful and prolific cherry tree. The maple and cherry trees are, in fact, my favorite things about living in this house, which much of the time I am of mixed minds and feelings about. I love that it’s an old craftsman, and I love that there are so many windows—I just don’t love that it’s so dark despite the windows (or so drafty because of them) or that the yard is so steep I worry about my child falling to her death whenever we’re in it or that there are rats in the back yard or that getting to the car from the house involves a billion steps in either direction or that every improvement that’s ever been made to the house has been done piecemeal and patchworky and not at all matching. I also really, really, really don’t like the kitchen or… well… I could go on, but I won’t. The point is, everyone else LOVES my house—my husband, his parents, my parents, his friends, my friends—pretty much everyone but me, the person who spends the most time in it, trying to raise a small child without her getting hurt or me losing my mind.

ANYway, the point of all this is that while historically I’ve liked doing yard work, I’ve discovered that working in a dangerously steep yard with a two-year-old underfoot is terrifying and very slow going. And more to the point, working on this particular yard makes me bitchy. It funnels all my resentments and compromises and annoyances into one big tornado of pissiness—which is why I put out the call on neighborhood listserv for teenagers looking to make a little cash by raking leaves. Twenty dollars a pop is a small price to pay for bitchiness reduction—not to mention leaf removal.

It turns out teens in Seattle—at least in our upper-middle-class section of it—aren’t so keen on raking up soppy, mossy, heavy leaves on a Sunday afternoon. My posting got one bite, and it wasn’t the teen himself who responded but his mom offering up his services.

I thought nothing of it until they stood in my doorway and the mom gently asked her adorably/painfully gawky 13-year-old if he’d like her to stick around while he got started and he said, “I want you to stay the whole time because it was your idea and I don’t want to be doing this in the first place.”



Just what I had in mind. A 13-year-old and his mom raking my yard all afternoon.

Well, at least I’m no longer alone in my surliness toward our yard. And while I can’t think of much worse company than an angry, strong-armed, disempowered 13-year-old boy with terrible people skills, at least I’m not totally alone.

Photo courtesy kevinrosseel, morgueFile

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