By John W. Vander Velden
There is a yard we care for that is within the city limits of a nearby city. The reasons we are responsible for that particular yard really doesn’t matter. We have that responsibility and we care for that yard. Throughout the summer I mow the lawn. In the winter I need to keep the sidewalks cleared. Snow you understand. But during the fall, it is leaves that require our vigilance.
There is only one tree on the property. Just one. But it is a large maple, and maples have a lot of leaves. Sorry Mrs. Lambert. Maples have a great many leaves. My teacher told us that “a lot” was only properly used to describe the area needed to build a house. But the leaves I blow to the edge of the street are not just maple leaves. Or at least not just the leaves from that solitary maple tree. For example thousands and thousands of leaves settle in the back yard and there isn’t a tree back there at all.
The house sits on the corner of two tree-lined streets. Across the way is a property with ten oak trees. Those leaves come later. But the leaves I move do not have labels indicating ownership. They just need to be moved and moved to a schedule. It might not seem fair that we need to rake up other people’s leaves. Can’t they keep control of their own trees, for pity’s sake? But it really doesn’t bother me, because I know that the wind carries our leaves to other places as well. They are just leaves, sometimes only a few, most times many, that need to be piled along the curb for the city to haul away.
It’s a job. Not that I get paid for moving leaves. But a job that needs to be done and I take a bit of pride in doing it and doing it well. And most of the people of the neighborhood must feel the same way, because the leaves line the street as far as I can see. You see we all understand that it is more than about whose trees produced the leaves that settle all so gently on the grass. It is about caring for your little part of the neighborhood, and in doing so making the whole place a little nicer.
Perhaps there are some that get frustrated. Perhaps there are some that get angry. But if they do they haven’t spoken to me about it. It’s life, and for six or seven weeks in the fall each of us rake leaves and not really care whose leaves they once were.
You see during the heat of summer that tree-line street offers shade. A most pleasant break from the sun’s rays. And the shadow of each tree is not confined to property lines. Maybe that’s why few complain about the leaves each fall. That the benefit we get from those same leaves demand a kind of payment, and after months of shade a few, well maybe more than a few, hours labor is a small price to pay.
So I rake leaves, and I think about all the other good things in my life that require a little “payback” and I bite my lip when I feel like complaining….
(549 Words) 11/14/2017