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View from the Ledge: Joys of Autumn
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Autumn is wonderful. It is cool but the harshness of winter is still weeks away. A crispness fills the air calling for a hot toddy and open fire. The leaves turn and under a brilliant sun on a cloudless day the tapestry of glorious colors dwarf those found in a big box of crayons.

But then comes misery. The raking, piling and bagging.

These glorious colors look wonderful while the leaves are still on the trees but when they are a foot deep on your front lawn they ain’t so pretty.

Add to this pine straw, which in my mind has no legitimate use. Some suggest it is wonderful as a decorative device. I say buy a pink flamingo.

But the most insidious of the lot are sweetgum balls. These hideous creations of nature could have been used as torture devices during the Spanish Inquisition. Step on one wearing shoes and you can turn your ankle; step on one in your bare feet and you will use words you didn't know you knew.

The combination of all of these, as well as bushes needing the late season trim and cluttered gutters, results in fall yard work rivaling the labors of Hercules.

A great desire may exist to wait until the final leaf has fallen, the idea being you will only have to do it once, but there are great perils to this plan.

The first is that winter will arrive and it will get really cold and you will find yourself working in conditions that bring things like heart attack and pneumonia into play. Of course, there have been times after I filled the 50th bag of debris and then looked across the lawn to realize I was only half finished that a heart attack didn't seem so bad.

The other is rain. Wet leaves, pine straw and sweetgum balls take on a new level of nightmare when wet. They are completely immune to the effects of a leaf blower and call for yeoman’s work with a rake.

You can look like an escapee from the home for the sick and weird clawing the ground with a rake trying to create even a small pile of this morass.

Then there is the issue of disposal. Burning is ideal but not always an option so you break out plastic trash bags. Trash bags are one of the arguments that plastic did not make the world a better place.

But it was not always bad. As a youngster raking up a big pile of leaves and then dive bombing yourself in the middle of them is one of the joys of childhood, but since you can’t do that on a computer I doubt many kids know that joy anymore. And once you reach a certain age and girth you have to acknowledge your dive bombing days are over.

There are some who say they enjoy fall yard work. I know two: one is clearly insane and the other’s wife tells him he will enjoy it so he has no recourse. For normal people it is simply a burden to bear.

So the ground is covered and there is yard work is to be done and I’m going to get right on it....tomorrow.


Ric Latarski is a freelance writer who writes on a variety of topics and can be reached at