By David J. Marsh
Thanks for watching the house while we are on our fall vacation. I know Aunt Kay made a list of items for you to keep an eye on while you’re house-sitting…a few tasks here and there. Here is one item she won’t think of.
Every day or two, every day if I have my way, I go to the garage and fetch my ladder and my Husqvarna leaf blower. I have not been happy with this leaf blower. I had it in the shop twice while it was still under warranty – once because the pull-start wouldn’t retract and once because it was dying every time I hit the “accelerator trigger”. I don’t know what they wrote on the ticket at Mower-Zone but that is what I call this part of the blower.
So, anyway, every day I clear the leaves that have fallen from the 13 trees on our lot. The trees are “mature” – as you would see written in a real estate listing.
I start on the roof of the house. I climb up there and blow the leaves. I push them around the chimneys, over the peaks, off the top of the gutter guards and finally off the roof entirely. I clear the nut-droppings from the feasting squirrels. I am bus boy to the squirrels.
You’ll see when you get up there, if there are enough leaves, that when you push a pile of them off the edge of the roof they flutter in a wonderful display. They take their flight and drop in the way their genetics have designed, according to their breed.
But the critical detail is they are off the roof and won’t cause the “walk-out family room” (the Realtors again) to flood like it did when we first moved in. I learned quickly why the carpet was so nice and new…years of neglect of the downspouts.
I go from the roof to the patio outside the back door. I move the leaves off the edge of the patio into the side yards, onto the grass where they belong. I push them around the old cast-iron patio furniture, around the barbeque, along past the ivy covered garden walls. As I clear the stoop just outside the back door, the thin rubber Welcome mat flutters in the blow. I make sure Welcome is facing the right direction, so that it could be read by a visitor. Visitors never come to the back door, but this way it can be read by whoever brings in the dog from doing his business – you this week, as it turns out.
I blow more than the leaves. You’ll see twigs, and nuts, seed pods – the variety changes with the seasons. It being the last week of September, there will be sticks and nuts in the leafy mix. The leaves are very dry and some carry a last bit of color. The occasional walnut rolls ahead of the blower, its rough green-brown husk gaining traction on the concrete.
Finally I clear the driveway, scooting the leaves across the blacktop and into the yard. Our third vehicle, my old blue truck, sits in the drive. You remember going to get ice cream in it with all the cousins? I just push the leaves around its tires and off its hood.
Aunt Kay thinks I’m addicted. What she doesn’t understand is that having the leaves in the yard where they belong, off the roof, patio, and driveway – not restricting the drainage of any rain that may creep up – has become for me a clearing of the mind as well. Once you’ve done it two or three times, I think you’ll agree. The leaves are paperwork at the office, junk mail from the marketers, complaints from the guys at the lodge. I clear it all away in 20 or 25 minutes, and I find a peace comes; a peace that comes as I move from one part of the patio to another. You’ll see. It is structure and serenity. I wear ear plugs* and the drone of the blow is distant, while its effects are immediate and visible there at my feet.
Sometimes my hand goes numb from the vibration of the handle. Don’t be alarmed. This only lasts for an hour or so and reminds me – you – that the outer-world is as it should be.
You can then move on to the catbox. Aunt Kay put this on her list for you, so I’ll direct you there at this point.
Should be a piece of cake!
Thanks for keeping an eye on things while we’re away.
*There are several in the top left drawer of the screw sorter on the yellow workbench under the cabinet inside the garage door – the “people door” as we’ve come to call it – not the garage door proper. I use and reuse them, so you’ll want to pick a newer-looking pair.
About David J Marsh:
As you read “Blow” David J Marsh is likely busy at one of the following tasks: polishing his first novel, seeking an agent, beginning to design his second novel, or defending his MFA thesis at Butler University in Indianapolis. Of course he could also be: visiting his mom, repairing the top hinge on the bathroom door (which just came loose this last weekend), or trying to figure out Twitter. Dave drives a twenty year-old Volvo and works as a global manager in a drug development company. Every two weeks on Wednesday he records what he’s learning about the craft of fiction at www.davidjmarsh.wordpress.com.