The Rake's Progress

The lawn is still green, but it hasn't been growing swiftly the way it does during summer. It is green but covered with leaves, brown, purple, and yellow, that lie quietly unless crackled by walkers through.

I should clear them away before the first snowfall. It's not that I mind the leaves, nor fear the disdain of those who care more about leaves and green than I. It's just that when our dog runs through the snow this winter, it'll be better for her without duff beneath.

I have a leaf blower– a nice one. Powerful and noisy. But I don't think I'll use it today. Instead, the rake. Its wooden handle clashes with its green plastic tines, as it seems to know since it continually comes unscrewed as if trying to escape. But, twisting it tight and holding it firmly like a scythe, I make my way to the top of the yard on one side and sweep, sweep, step, sweep, sweep the leaves toward the ravine. Sweep, sweep. Stop and twist the handle. Sweep, sweep, step. Shake away the leaves clumped among the tines.

As I uncover the green, my thoughts detach from the now automatic action of the rake. Raking life. A leaf falls, dead, and it's a part of the whole system. Implicated in that cycle, I sweep that leaf and its kindred back toward the trees from which they fell. The ravine is a source of life, the creek below, and the trees reach ever upward, story after story. Always more leaves, and always more life, though not always the same trees and never the same leaves. Sweep, sweep. Twist.

In summer, the cut grass smells of life, which is nearly the only reason I mow it. So do the crisp and crinkled leaves on a cool bright autumn day. I like being here without the power and without the noise, alive in the action of raking away the waste and making way for the snow dog and for spring. I like life. I want more life. Life all around. Life on the house.

We could use some extra, yes? Another round with friends.

Last 5 posts by David Byron


  1. AlphaCentauri says

    Skip the green plastic ones. Get the red plastic ones, where the tines are twinned into little "V's" that the leaves don't clump onto. Makes a world of difference.

  2. efemmeral says

    "Always more leaves, and always more life, though not always the same trees and never the same leaves."

    That was beautifully balanced. It feels like a parent/child allegory. Now I'm imagining other constructs that express the same idea. This is going to stick. I need a tune wedgie.

  3. Paul Baxter says

    The leaf blower (not the accordion) is Satan's preferred musical instrument. I had to remind a customer on Friday that I would not be able to tune his piano while he was using (consorting with?) his infernal device.

    Did some raking myself yesterday.

  4. AlphaCentauri says

    Satanic indeed. 99% of leaf blower users just blow the leaves off their own property but don't bag or compost them. (I just made up that statistic, but it's probably pretty close to true.) At least the mulcher-mower people can dump the trimmings in a pile and return the nutrients to the soil it came from.

  5. nodandsmile says

    I've always found the repetitive yet moving experience of sweeping to be a calming, meditative, nigh-on-zen time.

    And useful even!