Wednesday, December 03, 2008

No Answers Today

I've taken pictures published in The Purcellville Gazette and the Washington Post Loudoun Extra. And yet, I didn't take pictures of the subject of this blog entry. Go figure.

But, the topic of the blog today is not photographs or my camera work or even the Post or the Gazette. It is leaf raking.

So, now down to the business at hand - Leaf Raking

The home I share with Hiroko has lots of grass - lawn grass, of course - about an acre of it. The rest of our two acre property is almost all trees. The fifty acre property behind our house is all trees. Most of the property across the street is, you guessed it, trees. Lots and lots of trees in our neighborhood.

As most of you know, except our readers from the treeless sand dunes of Saharan Africa or Arizona, lawn grass acts as a magnet for tree leaves. It's a well established scientific fact. Thus, our lawn of one acre draws leaves from the surrounding sixty or so acres.

Changing the subject only slightly, today was a beautiful day for being outside, once the temperature rose above freezing. And now getting back to our subject, since I wanted to be outside enjoying the day I thought I'd better rake some of the million or billion leaves still on the lawn.

Out I went, carrying my leaf blower, my rake, my can of gas for the leaf blower and my can of gas for the lawn mower, which I was pushing. I had well used appendages, let me assure you.

I began all of this as the clock struck ten and the frost had almost given up its grasp on our leaves and grass. The grass, by the way, hasn't been mowed since about September and is too long to go into winter safely*. Raking and mowing seemed to be in order, in that order**.

But here's another thing that we non-Saharans know: It's much easier to rake or blow leaves across short grass than it is across long grass. Remember, now, the lawn I had to rake was long. What was I to do?

Here's the plan I came up with: rake a small patch of lawn adjacent to the place where I want the leaves to spend the winter - in other words, some of the wooded part of our community. Once that area is raked clean, mow it. The idea in my mind was that when I move the leaves from the next little area of lawn onto the mowed area it will be easier to move them the last leg of their journey into the woods. So, I spent about six and a half hours raking and mowing and raking and mowing little patches of my yard.

I did a lot of little patches this way, raking or blowing the leaves from a small patch of lawn onto a patch with shorter grass, then mowing the newly cleared patch.

And I would have been among those of you who think, that's the way to get the job done.

However, what I learned is that many many little patches of grass is only a tiny portion of our one acre of lawn. My guess is that I was able to clear and mow about a tenth of an acre in those six hours. I need to do many many many little patches of lawn.

It looks to me as if I've only got about another 54 hours to go on this project. A great reason to hope that I stay unemployed for at least another week and a half.

* I have heard that if blades of grass are too long during the winter the grass is more likely to enter spring with some kind of mold or fungus. I don't know if this is really true, but I am haunted by images of a hyperfungal lawn. This fear keeps me awake at night. Really.

** Why would raking come before mowing? Another thing that I've heard, but can't say I know for a fact, is that if leaves are left on a lawn over the winter the chemicals in the rotting leaves will make the soil too acidic for the wellbeing of the grass. I assume this holds true for tiny fragments of leaves left behind from mowing a leaf strewn lawn. This does not rob me of sleep, but I do get jittery between Thanksgiving and New Year when I drive past leaf-covered front yards.