Thursday, November 17, 2011

Observations from a stranger in a strange land

Sleep proved to be elusive one day last week, it happens, there is just times that my nocturnal work schedule makes any decent slumber impossible during the day. Those days I am reduced to light catnaps with periods of roaming the house trying to find a restful frame of mind like it was some tangible but misplaced item that I could recover. It was during one of my periods of wandering the house that I caught sight of my neighbor across the street from my front door window.

I have lived in the same suburban purgatory for nearly eleven years now and I believe I have talked to the guy no more than three times, and briefly at that. Like everyone else in the increasingly gentrified collection of lower-level McMansions I reside around he is a long time resident caught up in his own life and activities almost to the point we barely exist in the same universe. From what I hear, it is a common occurrence these days across the country and because of my early onset curmudgeon attitude not one that I would even begin to want to rectify. When you realize you are a stranger living in a very strange land you come to appreciate the distance you keep between the locals and you.

Looking from my front door window I caught sight of him proudly marching out of his garage carrying his manly leaf blower like it was some weapon locked and loaded for combat. I forget the manufacture but it was huge and had all the macho bells and whistles for the anal-retentive suburban types ever ready to do battle with autumn leaves that dare to disturb the aesthetics of a clean looking curb or driveway. As expected after two quick pulls on the starter cord the machine roared to life blowing what I am sure was at least category-three level hurricane winds from its ferocious snout.

Like some ancient king might contemptuously review the commoner riff-raff he slowly strolled the curb blowing the leafy detritus onto his yard, every once and a while squeezing the hand throttle of the mighty blower like some renegade biker would do his chopper in an attempt to show off. Once he was done this prime example of a civilized and proper American man looked upon his work as if he had just finished sculpting a fine statue. Obviously satisfied with his work he again proudly walked back inside his garage.

Several minutes later after getting something to drink and wander around the house some more I look back out my front door window and see him atop his riding lawnmower looking for all the world like the Lone Ranger or Roy Rogers. This was no bargain basement model of a riding lawnmower, I have seen the same model at the local Lowes and my first car cost less than that fine mechanical stallion. Like his manly leaf blower it comes with all the neat, upper end accessories like real headlights, cup holder, and a vacuum attachment.

Using the vacuum attachment like those cowboy matinee heroes from the 1950’s caught bank robber or cattle rustlers, he sucked up the leaves in his yard that dared to fall on his uniformly green lawn. Neither Rommel nor Patton could have commanded such precision in how he drove across his yard never overlapping more than an inch from where he had already cleared the offending organic material.

Once done, he meticulously bagged the leaves the same way a hazardous material team might contain and collect toxic chemicals and then threw them into the back of his huge and equally impressive truck. Given the usual habits of local suburbanites, the destination for the bagged leaves was certainly the local trash collection point where they would later be hauled off to the nearby landfill and buried. I imagine hundreds or maybe thousands of years from now eager archeological students will dig up those non-biodegradable trash bags and open them to find those very leaves and wonder what in the Hell people were thinking back then.

With the show over, I finally wandered back to bed and fell back to sleep although it was short. Once my daughter came home a couple of hours later I was back up getting her situated so she did her homework, Soon after that, I was off to pick up my son from school. As I drove away, I noticed that the wind had blown leaves from other yards and along with trees on his property the curb and a large portion of his yard was covered again. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I figured there was some sort of statement that could be said about human stupidity and the fact that Mother Nature gives less than a damn about suburban lawn care.


MRMacrum said...

Up here in Maine, leastways the area I live in, we wait for the wind to take the leaves into the neighboring properties. Just makes sense. Sure there are some anal retentive types thinking they's gonna turn Acton into some kind of Better Homes & Garden poster town, but we ignore them. The only thing we tend to remove ASAP is snow. That crap tends to pile up if you don't stay ahead of it.

Mr. Charleston said...

You would love my place BB. Maybe a 30'x50' patch of lawn (overgrown with dandelions), the rest devoted to whatever is in charge. How this whole idea of golf course lawns got started in the first place is a testament to stupidity. Green deserts poisoned with pesticides and fertilizers leading to... no bugs, leading to... no songbirds. Arrrrgh!

Commander Zaius said...

Mike Crum: LOL!!!!!!
Letting the wind take my leaves is what I usually do as well. Actual yard work is something I fight against as best I can.

Mr. Charleston: Absolutely, hundreds of square miles of wetlands here in South Carolina were killed by assholes using fertilizers for their golf courses and miniature estates.

Randal Graves said...

Given my love of fallen leaves & my loathing of leaf blowers that are yet one more proxy penis, this post gets a gold star and a toast if I had any booze at work.

Susan Flett Swiderski said...


Coulda been worse. That neighbor could've been annihilating the peace with his R-R-R macho man leaf blower on the morning after your night before. Me, I'm a raker, but our little town kindly sends around a truck that vacuums the leaves and turns them into mulch if we pile them at the curb. (I reckon they sell the mulch, but we're not buyers.)

Bet your neighbor's one of those types who fertilizes, aerates, seeds, de-weeds, and all that nonsense, too. As long as whatever grows in our yard has a semblance of greenish hue, we're satisfied. If there's a drought and the green stuff turns brown, sobeit. Then we don't have to cut the grass (er .. formerly green stuff) nearly as often.

Mr. C. directed me to your blog. Glad he did, too. Some good stuff here! Coune me in as your newest follower. (Egads, I'm turning into a cougar!)

Windsmoke. said...

We don't throw lawn clippings, leaves, branches etc in landfill that's a no-no, instead our local council supplies us with a green lidded wheelie bin that's emptied once a fortnight and turned into mulch :-).

Pixel Peeper said...

Those motorized leaf blowers are on my "most detested" list.

*Holds rake up high with a tight grip, shouting "...from my cold, dead hands..."*

lime said...

i have an issue with leaf blowers in general. the load whir annoys me. if you must rake i vote for the zen-like swish of an actual rake. we live in the woods on an acre of oak and our yard is mostly moss instead of grass. for the life of me i don't know why the husband feels a need to blow he leaves out to the road for the township to come suck up.

Unknown said...

I guess I've said all I have to say on this topic.

Green Monkey said...

leaf blowers drivers me NUTS!!! and yet, I love the sound of lawn mowers, maybe its because it is accompanied by that wonderful fresh cut grass smell.

love that smell.....

Akelamalu said...

No point in picking up leaves until all the trees are empty is there?

Commander Zaius said...

Randal: This post was just a desperate attempt to write something. Got the idea from a comment I wrote at "Going Down Hill."

Susan Flett Swiderski: Hey and welcome! Yeah, that neighbor is the type who does all the elaborate stuff to his yard.

Windsmoke: When I am forced at gun point to do yardwork I pile the stuff in the backyard and mulch it as well.

Pixel: In all honesty I own a leaf blower as well, but I use the thing maybe once a year.

Lime: When I rake I setup something I like to call a Forward Edge of Battle Area, or what FEBA as the military uses the term. This front line shrinks inward and with every stroke of the rake I imagine tanks, infantry, and other army elements doing battle with the forces of evil.

Yeah, I'm weird.

Mike: Yeah, got the idea from the comment I left at your blog. Nothing else came to mind and I had free time to write.

Green Monkey: Yeah, the smell of cut grass is nice. As long as my son is doing the mowing.

Akelamalu: Absolutely! And by them most of the leaves in my yard have been blown away by the wind into someone else's.

Red Nomad OZ said...

HAhaha!! I know it's not REALLY funny but ...!!!

Weirdly, downunder in OZ, our native gum trees (eucalyptus sp) shed leaves like crazy NOW! So I share your pain (or at least your neighbours ...)

Loved your FF too!!

Nance said...

Smart Clemson scientists on NPR convinced me we should mulch our leaves back onto the lawn and use the excess to pile around our trees and shrubs as mulch. Suddenly, I see smiley faces on all the leaves in my yard!