M. Giant's
Throwing stuff at the internet to see what sticks

Wednesday, May 29, 2002  

I’m not big on yard work. It’s not that I don’t like being outside, or that I don’t want a nice yard. I do like being outside, and I do want a nice yard. It just seems that there’s never enough time to actually accomplish anything. You can cut, prune, trim, edge, and weed, but then you have to deal with all the loose vegetable matter that all of your cutting, pruning, trimming, edging, and weeding has generated. Snipping off bits of the hedge is all well and good, but knowing that you’re going to have to bag up all the snipped-off bits and haul them to the curb isn’t much of an incentive to keep snipping. Especially when everything’s going to be all grown back in a week anyway. If I couldn’t get away with leaving my grass clipping on the (front) lawn, I’d probably mow even less frequently than I do now.

Last Christmas, I got something that has changed my whole attitude about yard work. It’s called a chiminea. If you’re not familiar with this item, it’s basically an outdoor fireplace. It has changed my life.

There’s a big difference between producing yard waste you’re going to have to bag and drag, and producing yard waste that you eventually plan to set fire to. The two tasks may seem similar, but they have as much in common as cleaning grease traps and eating ice cream. Since we don’t have a fireplace in our house, having a chiminea pits my latent pyromania against my general laziness. And I’m here to tell you that my laziness doesn’t stand a chance.

I don’t pick up sticks any more; I gather kindling. Instead of trimming the hedges, I collect brush. And when I picked up a saw, climbed a ladder, and pruned a big branch from our backyard maple yesterday to give my new grass seeds a little more sun, I was cutting firewood.

I still had to bag up some leaves last week (hey, spring came late this year, so shut up), but instead of cursing all those maddening little twigs that poked holes in the bags, I just pulled them out to be consigned to the flames another day. That’ll learn ‘em.

Trash and I live within the city limits, so there are all these weird rules about yard waste disposal. I don’t even know them all. I do know that it’s illegal to burn leaves in a bonfire in your yard. My neighbor told me that you used to be able to rake the leaves into the street and burn them there. I’m generally not one for saying we should go back to the way things were in the good old days, but that sounds awesome. You’d be driving slowly through the neighborhood, weaving between these huge, smoldering piles that you could pretend were burning police cars in some imaginary apocalypse. That’s certainly worth the occasional house fire and the likelihood of all the neighborhood kids entering middle school with lung tumors.

At least the city still picks up leaves and brush if we leave it by the curb during certain times of the year, so we’re better off than some places in that respect. I’ve heard about towns and cities that don’t have any place to put the stuff, so people have to resort to flushing leaves down their toilets. Eventually that does a real number on your plumbing. Believe me, I know. That’s why I’m willing to spend a little money on toilet paper now.

But it’s still fun to burn stuff in the back yard. And don’t lecture me on how I’m ruining the environment by releasing smoke and greenhouse gases into the atmosphere; if it’s good enough for Yellowstone, it’s good enough for me.

posted by M. Giant 4:16 PM 0 comments


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