“I already have one,” Harold countered, but his feet did not move.
“Yes,” I added, “but…” I faltered for a moment, trying to remember why we might need a new leaf blower. “Our old one doesn’t have enough power.” That was it. Power.
“True.” Harold’s face lit up. “Look, this one has 550…”
I quit listening at that point. I knew the leaf blower was a done deal. You see, I’ve been through this leaf blower thing before. Twice. In truth, Harold already had two leaf blowers, an electric one with a cord that was never long enough and another that runs on a battery that, even when fully charged, sounds like me trying to blow up my grandkids’ wading pool. (A sad wheezing sound that prompted Harold to buy an air compressor, but that’s another story.)
Harold really did not have an effective leaf blower. Still, maybe it’s a guy thing and I’m just not genetically wired to appreciate it, but the compelling beauty of the leaf blower itself escapes me. It’s not that I haven’t had enough exposure. Every day, Harold finds some reason to haul his leaf blower out of the garage. Even when it isn’t leaf season, there is always some wayward piece of bark, some clump of grass clippings, some slip of windblown newspaper that needs to be moved somewhere else.
Harold is not alone in his quest. The whir of leaf blowers is a constant in my neighborhood. It has become the white noise soundtrack of our suburban lives. Every week, a fleet of landscape trucks rolls in and unloads mowers and edgers and other such lawn managing equipment. Sometimes the workers weed and feed, sometimes they trim the shrubs, but every session finishes with the whine of at least one leaf blower. And these people are diligent. I’ve watched them spend 10 minutes chasing down a single wayward leaf, buffeting the poor thing farther and farther down the driveway until it is propelled outside their jurisdiction.
In my simple way of thinking, it’s hard to understand why the guys just don’t bend over and pick the leaves up. One leaf, one downward motion. It seems like a no-brainer. But no, they spend 10 minutes and a half-gallon of gasoline in the procedure, which doesn’t seem like a good return on their investment.
Maybe there are union rules against making actual contact with the leaves. Maybe the crews are discouraged from becoming that personally involved since they’re gearing up for the big autumn assault season, when their entire job will be to propel the falling leaves – unnamed – into someone else’s territory. The yard crews blow them into the gutter. The street crews blow them up over the curb again. Back and forth, back and forth. No one removes the leaves entirely. Somehow, the leaves are gone in the spring, but I’m not sure how unless they just spontaneously disintegrate from continual agitation.
That won’t happen in our yard this year. No sirree, Bob. With Harold at the helm of his new whizbang leaf blower that has 550…somethings…our property will be secure, 100 percent leaf free.
“I’ll call it my Father’s Day present,” Harold said as he wheeled the giant leaf blower box toward the register. I followed at a respectful distance. OK, sweetie. Whatever you say. Let’s just take our new baby home.