For the past week or so I wake up and hear machines buzzing everywhere. Six a.m. one weekday morning, and 8 a.m. on the weekends — the steady, seemingly endless whine of something mechanical. Street cleaners, I wondered? Sewer sanitizing devices?? What the HELL is it?

None of the above. It’s leaf-blowers.

The one downside to living in the middle of the sprawling forests that are the D.C. suburbs is that all of those lovely trees — and there are 15 alone in my backyard — drop their leaves in the fall. And oh my God, you have never seen so many leaves. Fallen leaves inches deep carpet sidewalks and driveways and cars and eavestroughs and roofs and walkways and lawns and roads.

As a Canadian, I liken it to a major snowfall, when you spend days digging out. Except the leaves don’t melt if the temperature climbs and the sun comes out. They rot and clog. Which means they must be dealt with as soon as they come down. Which is why apparently every resident of my neighbourhood possesses a much-maligned leaf-blower, even though some jurisdictions in the U.S. are trying to restrict their use.

This morning I looked out and there were three people up the street blowing their leaves down to the curb, where the county will pick them up, and two people on their roofs, blowing the leaves out of their eavestroughs. I have never seen anything like it. I come from a tree-y neighbourhood in Toronto, but it’s like the Sahara Desert compared to the volume of trees and leaves we are talking about here. I didn’t even know there was such a thing as a leaf-blower til I moved here, in fact, although I was certainly familiar with snow-blowers.

I already hired a lawn maintenance company to come two weeks ago to blow my leaves. But I am finding myself feeling such annoyance at the sound of the leaf-blowers, that instead, for the second major leaf-dump that happened this past week, I am going to go buy a rake and actually collect and dispose of them the old-fashioned way. Good exercise and better for the environment.

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