Saturday 22 October 2011

Leaves Are Pretty Cool

For some reason, this is a day for leaves.

My friends on Facebook are talking about leaves. Most of the talk is complaining about having to rake them and what to do once they are raked. There have been numerous comments on the best way to deal with them. The most sensible seems to be that they should be left alone. That is the way that nature takes care of them, but it isn’t really what I would call a good neighbour policy. I met a guy once that was tossing his leaves into the air on a windy day and they were blowing down the street, eventually ending up at his neighbours. I told him that he was a prince for sharing his leaves like that and I wouldn’t be surprised if I saw him after Halloween scraping eggs off of his house.

For the past ten years or so I have been using them in my composter, and before that I buried them at the side of the house. I don’t think that the compost is that good, but who am I to argue with all of those green thumbed zealots out there?

My grandsons Hurricane and Tornado came over today, and before they arrived I went out and raked all of the leaves into a very large pile for them to jump in. There seems to be a connection hardwired in a kid’s brain about how to play in leaves. They dive in head first, go completely under, toss them as high as they can and then do it all over again and again and again. You know, the only thing that they don’t do is to make “leaf men” out of them. The grandkids loved the leaves of course and then came into the house. In retrospect it might have been a good idea to brush them off before they came inside. Oh well, that is what vacuum cleaners are for.

When I was small, the acceptable way to get rid of leaves was to burn them. You would rake them into a pile (actually, mom and dad would do the raking) and then start a fire. The leaves wouldn’t burn with a large flame, but would smoulder and produce huge amounts of white smoke. To this day, whenever I smell burning leaves I am transported back to those wonderful days when the sky was blue, the air was crisp and clean and white smoke billowed up from every back yard in the neighbourhood. Oh, sure, it was probably an environmental nightmare, but I would gladly trade burning leaves for an equal amount of burning fossil fuel.

I remember that at this time of year in school we would get a science project to find and identify as many leaf species as possible, and to iron them between two sheets of waxed paper to preserve them. I love that smell as well. Mom wouldn’t let Steve or I handle the iron of course because there would be a good chance one of us (me) would have been branded for life. I am sure mom wasn’t happy about wax on her iron, but that is what mom’s did then and do now.

My neighbour Don and I talked about our leaves and solutions. I looked up and saw that the leaves were pretty much choking up the eaves troughs. That will be something to do for tomorrow I guess. I just might put it off as there are still quite a few leaves on the tree and I don’t really want to do it twice. I am getting a little fearful of perching on the edge of the roof, scooping handfuls of semi-composted leaves out of the eaves. I guess I am getting a little old for that kind of nonsense.

I use the leaves that I rake up as a Halloween decoration as well. Nothing says abandoned graveyard like leaves mounded in front of and around Styrofoam gravestones. They are also good for stuffing shirt and pants to make a pumpkin head man. My wife has fake leaves that she takes to work in order to decorate for the season.

Yep, leaves are pretty cool and of course very colourful.

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