'Matter of Laugh or Death,' a humor column
By Bill Dunn
Interesting observations on this thing we call life
(appearing each week in the Republican-American newspaper, Waterbury, CT)
THE SPLENDOR OF AUTUMN LEAVES – MAYBE NOT
Here we are in the middle of Autumn in New England. This is a very special time of year, and we are very blessed to be living in this part of the country during this season. People from all over the world plan vacation trips to New England in the Fall, just so they can witness the breath-taking scenery.
At this time of year we are surrounded by vibrant colors. We can feel the crisp morning chill, with a hint of frost on the pumpkins, which gives way to the bright sunshine that warms up each afternoon to the perfect temperature. Not too cold, not too hot. And no oppressive humidity. During the Fall, every New England neighborhood turns into an L.L. Bean catalog.
Yes, there is no doubt about it, New England is a very special place during Autumn. In fact, it is so wonderful, I think I’ll spend the rest of the day sitting in my basement writing about the wonders of Autumn in New England. That way, I won’t have to go outside and face a less-than-wonderful aspect of the season: raking the darn leaves.
When we first moved into this house 24 years ago, I remember our first Fall. Oh, it was so cute. The whole family frolicked and played as we made a game of raking the leaves that fell from three mid-sized maple trees. It was a new and exciting adventure. We were so happy being a young family living in a terrific region of the country. Then, without any warning, just one year later, those same three trees left another pile of leaves on the ground. Raking them up that year wasn’t nearly as “frolicky.”
Now, almost a quarter-century later, those three maple trees are each about the size of the Hindenburg, and they no longer shed their leaves one at a time in that classic autumnal fashion, with each leaf dancing and fluttering to the ground like a gentle brown snowflake. No, now those trees dump bushels of leaves at a time, like sacks of emergency supplies falling from a military cargo plane. The clumps of leaves hit the ground with such force I think they’re denting the lawn.
The task of removing those tons of leaves from the yard is now a grueling drudgery. (Or maybe a drudging gruelery, I’m not sure anymore.)
To make matters worse, our house is located at the bottom of a hill, and the prevailing winds transport most of my neighbors’ leaves directly into my yard. Hey, I believe in neighborly sharing, but this is ridiculous.
There are a few options. First, I can just stop complaining and spend every weekend from now until Thanksgiving raking the leaves. Or I can stuff leaves into those large paper bags, drag them up the hill, and dump the leaves in my neighbors’ yards, which after all, is where many of the leaves came from in the first place. (However, this option, no matter how emotionally satisfying, might disqualify me from winning the “Neighbor of the Year” award.)
My third option is to buy an Army surplus flamethrower on E-Bay and incinerate the leaves right where they lay. This could cause a problem, though, which I’m sure you’ve already anticipated: my jealous neighbors will want to borrow the flamethrower, and as usual, will return it to me with an empty gas tank.
So I guess I’ll just grit my teeth, rake up the stinkin’ leaves, and deal as best as I can with Autumn in New England, by far the lousiest time of year in the lousiest part of the country.
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