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

Wednesday, November 27, 2002  

A couple of weekends ago, I decided to do something I’d never done before in my life. I decided to rake and bag all of the leaves in the yard. By myself. It was also something I’ll never do again.

I guess I’m lucky that I never had to handle the project solo before. My parents never made me do it by myself when I lived at home, and when Trash and I lived in apartments the landlords used to let us help each other (although how we got stuck raking Hennepin Avenue that year still puzzles me). After we moved in to the house, we adopted one or more of the following strategies: get one of our parents to come over and help us, pay the neighbor kids to do it, or just wait for the leaves to blow away. But this year I didn’t get around to scheduling any help. Plus the neighbors have a fence now. And since Trash (who was busy and therefore couldn't help me) had refused to let me set fire to the lawn on Halloween, I had some cleaning up to do.

The most important thing to keep in mind when raking leaves is timing. When I do it, I only want to do it once. I don’t understand people who start bagging in late August. What could they be thinking? Sure, it’s warm outside, and it gets dark later, but here’s a tip: if you’re bagging leaves in the shade, you’re wasting your time. It’s like vacuuming your living room before the cat dies.

Vastly preferable is my method of waiting until every tree in the neighborhood looks like something out of an Edward Gorey illustration. Of course, there are a lot of years when that doesn’t happen until there’s already a foot and a half of snow on the ground, and there’s no way you can get at the leaves until spring. Like I said, my method is vastly preferable.

But this year’s weather conditions conspired to leave me with bare trees and a Sunday afternoon that was warm enough to allow me to be outside for extended periods of time without my blood freezing. Also, this is my first autumn as a proud chiminea owner. And there’s no task, no matter how tedious, that can’t be livened up with some fire. Am I right?

Besides I figured that if I got too bored with the raking and bagging and raking and bagging, I could just stuff the leaves into the chiminea, saturate it with lighter fluid, and torch the whole pulpy mess.

I was prepared. I had my rake. I had my electric leaf-blower. I had the biggest, best, strongest bags you can buy (it even said so on the box, and the fact that the bags went from black to nearly transparent when I unfolded them is merely more proof that they were constructed from some indestructible space-age polymer, and the way that green leaf stems poked through them when they pressed on the surface at the correct angle simply demonstrates their adaptability, and the lack of drawstrings, tieable handles, or twist-ties only shows that the manufacturers wanted to concentrate on making the best bag possible, and I’m sorry, but this parenthetical has gone on so long that at this point I don’t think I’m even going to bother closing it.

Four hours later, the sun went down and I was about halfway finished with the backyard.

How do people do this every year? It’s boring! It’s soul-draining! It takes forever! It turns your fingers into filthy Popsicles! Maybe I could have gotten more done if I hadn’t bothered to pull the larger and medium-sized sticks out of the leaves for the fire (and also to keep the sticks from shredding any bags that also contained, you know, leaves), but then I wouldn’t have had a fire. Or any intact bags.

I’ve been meaning to get back to the project, but my weekends have been too busy and the window of sunlight on weekdays is more or less equal to my workday and I’m not about to bag leaves by the illumination of the garage light. Not to mention that I don’t think it’s going to get much warmer any time soon. That means I’m either going to have to finish the job in arctic gear or look at the leaves until the snow covers them.

Come on, snow!

* * *

We went to another bar trivia contest last night, this time at a different bar. The difference between that trivia and the one at Kieran’s is like the difference between Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy. The comedian Drake Sather used to have a bit about the difference between those two shows. On Jeopardy, people would get introductions like “Don is a particle physicist, and in his spare time he enjoys building brains,” whereas on Wheel we’d get to hear introductions like “Jan is interested in small, shiny objects.” Let’s just say that last night, it would have been wise to cover up anything glittery.

That’s actually pretty churlish of me to say considering we ended up third. Actually, we’d only missed two out of forty questions all evening, which put us in a three-way tie for first. The only reason we dropped out was because we didn’t know one of the questions in the three-point tiebreaker round. The question was “Who is Vincent Furnier?” and if you already know that off the top of your head, keep it to yourself, because even I know it now. We could have held on if the second and third tiebreaking rounds had come first, because they all had to do with Star Trek. Shut up. Cool is immaterial when trivia prizes are at stake.

That first place team at Kieran’s had still better look out, though. We’re in training and everything.

posted by M. Giant 3:30 PM 0 comments


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