Fum­ing over fall fo­liage!

Sherbrooke Record - - EDITORIAL - Tim Belford

I“I think that I shall never see A poem lovely as a tree”

-Joyce Kilmer

have al­ways felt that when Joyce Kilmer penned those well-known lines he was un­der the in­flu­ence of some sort of psy­chotic drug. It was long be­fore mar­i­juana was le­gal and past the time when opium was in its hey­day but nev­er­the­less I am sure he was dab­bling in acid or magic mush­rooms or the like.

Don’t get me wrong, I re­al­ize trees are an es­sen­tial part of life here on planet earth. They pro­vide shade, they re­duce car­bon diox­ide in the at­mos­phere, they fil­ter out pes­ti­cides and fertilizers be­fore they hit the wa­ter sup­ply and in a pinch serve a dec­o­ra­tive func­tion as well. It’s just that come Oc­to­ber, each and ev­ery year, with­out fail, they start their an­nual shed­ding. Like one enor­mous de­cid­u­ous dog their branches shake and shimmy in the wind and dis­gorge a ton or two of fo­liage into my yard. And I hate it.

For two full months I take up the an­nual strug­gle. Armed with an ar­ray of tools, bags, and high-tech elec­tri­cal equip­ment I rake, blow, bun­dle and bag and still the leaves come down. There seems to be no end.

The first year that we lived in Casa Loiselle I de­cided the best thing to do was to wait un­til all the leaves had fallen be­fore scoop­ing them up. This way, I sur­mised, I could re­duce the ef­fort to one, al­beit very long, day. As far as er­rors go this was right up there with Hitler’s in­va­sion of Rus­sia in 1941. Just as the Soviet in­te­rior proved to be an end­less tract into which the Rus­sian army re­treated un­de­feated, the pile of leaves that ac­cu­mu­lated de­fied my lim­ited imag­i­na­tion. The re­sult was that I spent con­sid­er­ably more than the anticipated one day knee deep in leaves. To add in­sult to in­jury, it had been a wet fall and the sod­den leaves proved un­a­menable to be­ing scooped up by any­thing other than a shovel.

Part of the prob­lem is that my home is lo­cated in close prox­im­ity to some­where in the neigh­bour­hood of 6,000 maple trees. Our own yard con­tains two large maples in the front and a mini for­est in the rear. To com­pound the prob­lem, our neigh­bours all ap­pear to be un­der the thrall of the above­men­tioned poet and in­sist on hav­ing trees of their own. The re­sult is an end­less flurry of leaves blown from whichever way the wind chooses to gust.

Why not try mulching the leaves you say. Af­ter all they make good fer­til­izer for the lawn and gar­dens. Well, in fact, I have tried a lim­ited mulching pro­gram but soon re­al­ized that I could have gar­den soil to ri­val the fa­bled fer­tile cres­cent and still have barely scratched the sur­face.

Short of buy­ing one of the used grain si­los that dot the Saskatchewan prairies for stor­age I would still be over­run with leaves.

The only one in our house­hold that ap­pears to look to the fall with great an­tic­i­pa­tion is Brando the Won­der Dog. Un­like his mas­ter he never met a leaf pile that he didn’t like. As a re­sult, no sooner have I raked or blown the maple de­tri­tus into a man­age­able pile than the dog launches him­self, tor­pedo like, into the mound dis­ap­pear­ing en­tirely save for a mer­rily wag­ging tail.

The only up side to all of this, at least, is that pos­sess­ing the ex­tra lot, as treestrewn as it is, gives me some place to put the leaves once they are gath­ered. If not for this space I would likely have to ne­go­ti­ate a con­tract with Kruger or Cas­cades for a semi trailer load of suit­able bags.

Short of that, the only al­ter­na­tive would be for the love of my life to get me the Christ­mas present I’ve long yearned for - a nice, self-sharp­en­ing chain saw.

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