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Been There, Done That

Published: November 27, 2016 4:00 AM
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I just couldn't get in the mood to clean up the leaves this year. When we lived in the trailer park, we only had one little tree in our yard so we didn't have to clean up any leaves.

We moved to the house 20 years ago and it was baptism by fire with them. We've tried about every possible way of getting rid of them -- leaf blowers, rakes, yard vacuums, tarps, trailers, wagons, whatever. We've burned them in the fire ring and right where they sat in the driveway (literally baptism by fire).

But this year, I just didn't feel like messing with them. I came up with every excuse not to. One weekend, I said it was too cold and we couldn't have a fire because we're saving the stuff in the fire ring for one last bonfire this year.

There's no point in starting a fire in the woodstove in the garage. It's so junked up in there you can't walk through it to get to the woodstove.

The following weekend, the weather was pretty nice. Dry, mild temperatures. Ah, too bad. We have house guests. And only the weekends counted. I'm not working all day and coming home and raking leaves until dark. Been there, done that -- in my 30s and 40s. I'm too old for that stuff now.

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So we blew it off and went with Dave's excuse -- "I'm waiting until they all come down." Well, he got his wish, so now we have to get busy.

He's the "last leaf standing guy." He's not happy until every single leaf everywhere in our yard has been dealt with. I'm the "get it done guy." A few left here and a few left there -- whatever. It got the majority of them. Let Mother Nature do her thing and send them on down the line.

I finally came home from work one warm and sunny Friday afternoon and the electric was out. So I might as well go outside and get in the mood to work on those leaves. And it was like the whole world was working against me.

I had a plan. Dave would use the leaf blower to make big piles for me. He'd drive the tractor and park the trailer right next to the pile for me to fill it up. Then he'd drive it to the tree line in the Back 40 and together we'd rake the leaves out into the compost pile.

Yeah well, that didn't happen. At least not for a while. The leaf blower wouldn't start because it was out of gas. I texted our No. 1 son and found out the gas can was in the back of his truck.

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Not helping, but never mind, we'll go old school. I'll get a rake and make piles and Dave will drive the tractor, yada, yada, yada.

And I couldn't find any of the big rakes. Probably with the gas can in the boy's truck. Whatever. The one I found would do. All we have to do is fire up the tractor, empty the grass bins on the back and get the trailer.

But the tractor wouldn't start. Fine. Dave hooked it up to the charger and just as I was about to flip the switch, it dawned on me that half the reason we were outside was because the power was out.

OK, we go way old school. I got my rake and a trash can. Fill the can, drag it to the trailer and dump it in. I only did that three times before I figured out using a dolly would make this a lot easier.

I had the trailer about half full when our Beagle Boy Cletus popped up in there -- scratching and scruffing, digging and pawing and throwing leaves in the air with his nose. I think he was nesting (and emptying the trailer).

Not helping, but neither was anything else that day. As soon as the power came back on, Dave charged the tractor battery and it was on like donkey kong. He emptied the grass bins and hooked up to the trailer.

By the time Cletus and I walked to the tree line in the Back 40, the trailer was just about empty. Awesome. Dave parked the tractor and trailer in the front yard by a few piles for me and he and Cletus went inside for a break. I filled the trailer and there still was no Dave, so I got on the tractor just to see if it would start again. It did, so I took off.

How hard can this be? Well, a little tougher than I thought. I'm not so good at backing up a trailer. OK, I way stink at this. I jackknifed it three times and had to start over completely twice to get it backed up where I wanted it. I still did it.

To park it in the driveway at the next pile, I had to drive through the front yard, then turn and ride alongside the road and then turn into the driveway to be headed in the right direction. Lord knows I can't back this thing up.

By the time I was done with my leaf-cleaning mood that day, I couldn't even feel my arms. That was probably a good thing. The tides might have been against us that day, but we got'r done and thankfully my mood to play a game called leaves only strikes about twice a year.

° 2016 Laura Nethken


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