Thursday, September 22, 2011

Leaves Of Gas: In Praise Of...The Rake


The implement shown on the left is called a rake.

When I was a young man, nobody needed to explain to anyone else what this implement was or its uses.

Today, despite the fact that the invention of the rake was one of the seminal moments in human history, ranking right up there with the wheel and the Wiffle-Ball, we need to tell nearly everyone what it is and why it is so important to them and us, especially the young ones, who may never have seen one.

In the olden days, before 1980 or so, people used this tool in order to gather leaves in autumn or, as it is more popularly and descriptively known, fall. The rake made a pleasant  scraping sound when used on paved walkways and roads, and a more muffled, yet no less wonderful sound on lawns, like combing your hair ( people carried combs in their purses and pockets in those days like we carry phones today).

Amazingly, autumn leaves were once treated as fairly harmless inconveniences. We gathered them or even burned them, but we did not fear them as we fear leaves today, as the dangerous environmental and aesthetic hazard they apparently pose.

Contrary to current understanding, there was a time in recent history, when there simply was no urgent need to gather leaves at any other time of year, except autumn.

In winter, spring and summer, if a few haphazard leaves happened to "fall," say from a hurricane, people actually just left them there on the ground, and this was not a crime subject to a heavy fine or lengthy period of banishment from a community.

Today, of course, we treat fallen leaves and other plant material as real threats, which must be quickly and loudly blown, gathered, bagged, trucked and eradicated.  Someone has decided that a leaf or two or more can be detrimental to our way of life, or at least our old way of life, which was much, much better than our current way of life, but we don't remember exactly why.

And, so, we have developed a special system of 24/7/365 professional leaf removal services. This industry provides thousands of jobs and is the one area in which we can definitely say that we dominate in a way that China can only dream about doing, aside form the fact that most "blowers" are made there.

These days, we attack and pulverize leaves: the earlier in the day the better, but we do it all day, if needed, especially on Saturdays and Sundays. We have also discovered that leaves are attracted to loud noises, and this requires more powerful implements requiring electricity or, as is more often the case with professionals, gasoline.

You can see one of these gas-powered machines at rest to the left. Note that the little pile of leaves next to it is only for display purposes. In reality, this baby blows leaves so fast, hard, and far, along with all kinds of dirt, rocks and debris that there are no little piles of leaves.

Did we mention that it is also very, very loud? It sounds like like a small jet plane taking off from your lawn or a million billion biblical-style locusts on their way to Mt. Sinai or the Fertile Crescent. But, remember, leaves do not hear well, so it is entirely necessary to blast that volume.

Just last Saturday, we were playing a much too quiet game of doubles, when, much to our amazement, a man with a gas-powered-leaf-blower (women tend to use electric models, tethered to a socket by a long power line like space-walkers), a veritable Harley Davidson blower, started in on some renegade September leaves.

Gone was the sound of a sail line flapping against a mast, gone were the gulls squawking atop the boathouse, and gone, gone, gone were the sounds of racquet strings striking fuzzy balls.

Gone was the gentle and harmonious sound of a rake scraping its musical way.

Gone, but not forgotten by the few, the loyal, the dreamers.

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