Friday, November 29, 2013

Oh my gosh, raking


My grandparents' yard, the ones that didn't live in a condo, was huge. There was a steep hill out front that we could roll down, tall trees that blocked-out daylight, and I'm sure, a small fantastical set of creatures that lived in the nooks and crannies that loved to play Monopoly.

There were at least ten trees in their yard. I say ten, but it could've easily been 100. And when autumn came, those sentinels unleashed leaf-fury all over the yard, and once a year, on a Sunday, my aunts, uncles and cousins would saddle up and battle the yard with rakes, gloves, flannels and boots.

We amassed brown pile after brown pile, until the pre-Daylight Savings Time sun finally whispered below the treeline at 6 p.m. (instead of the ungodly 5 p.m. it is now). We man-handled those piles of leaves, after jumping into them, of course, and created a wall of black plastic bags that could be seen from space.

The Great Wall of China was jealous.

In the house, which felt too hot and dry, once my body got used to the brittle November chill, Grandma Wolf would be double-double-toil-and-troubling over a pot of chilli, our just-reward for removing those feculent piles from the yard.

Those Sundays felt like a day at Holiday World.

As everyone got older, that tradition died out, and I would be asked by my mom to go over to my Grandma's house to rake the yard -- alone. The giant yard that felt as vast as some "Lord of the Rings" kingdom.

Where was my brother? Where were my cousins? Did my aunts and uncles forget they had parents?

It was loathsome, and I resented all my family members that were not over there battling the dregs of brown leaves with me.

As I bemoaned my chore, my Grandma would tell me how much she loved yard work. "Then why don't you lug this rake around and scour the yard in search of more blisters?" I wanted to ask.

Yeah, yeah -- I know...she physically couldn't do it anymore.

I let her know how much I detested yard work every instant I had, though, but one of her favorite maxims was how I would change my mind about yard work when I had my own place.

"It'll be different when it's your own yard," she said.

She couldn't have been more wrong.

Now that I have my own vast kingdom (mine is more Chronicles of Narnia, than Lord of the Rings), I still don't enjoy it. I nary run out to my back yard, yelling, "It's mine, all mine!"

On a weekend in the summer, when the weeds are calling my name, I don't leap out of bed, pull gloves on and frolic through their histamines, pulling them up with a song in my heart. When the leaves of my Silver Maples decide to fall during the last weekend of November (which is all-kinds of cold), after every other tree in the land has dispensed their leaves during a more tepid autumn day, I don't run out with my rake singing how the hills are alive with the sound of music.

I just don't like yard work.

I'll do it. I just don't like it.

Someday, I'll invite a load of friends over to help me rake my yard, and we'll have chilli and a bonfire and make a whole day of it, and that will be the only time I'll enjoy it.

Until then, when I face the netherlands of my yard when covered in crumbling leaf decay, I won't rake it. I'll just pull out my mower and obliterate the leaves, mulching them to kingdom come.