RRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!!!!!!!!!! It’s that time of year when my tranquility is destroyed almost daily.
I’ve always detested leaf blowers. From the first time I heard that horrible noise, I declared that all leaf blowers should be outlawed and their users thrown in jail.
I can’t count how many times I’ve had a meditative hike, an afternoon nap, or a peaceful kayak paddle ruined by the obnoxious roar of a leaf blower. RRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!!!!!!!!!!
When I discovered that Dad had one, for his gravel yard in Arizona, I felt betrayed. How could this outlaw be my father? He was very hard of hearing, so the noise didn’t bother him.
I might have made my peace with leaf blowers if they didn’t seem so pointless. Why use an 80-decibel blower when you can have the soothing rhythms and pleasant exercise of raking leaves – which is just as fast and more controlled, too? How could blowing the leaves somewhere else be a solution, anyhow? Why would someone who calls herself a gardener blow nature’s mulch and fertilizer away from plants?
I am not alone – many communities have banned leaf blowers. In our community, you can’t use them on Sundays.
Here at the rental house, there’s a long driveway, and so the owners left their leaf blower in the garage. I rolled my eyes at it. As if.
You’d think that being the ripe old age of 57 I would know better than to say “Never.” But as recently as yesterday, I looked at that blower and said for the 100th time: I will never use a leaf blower.
Today I was having one of my bad days, when anxiety overtook me like a satanic possession. I cowered on the couch in my pajamas and kept sipping herbal tea, hoping it would pass.
Finally I decided I’d go out and sweep the leaves from the driveway. The exercise and communing with nature on a pleasant fall day was bound to help at least a little.
As I started in with the push broom, I could see that I was going to have a problem. I’d swept the driveway once before, and now its edges were piled high with leaves. The wind had gathered leaves against the retaining wall more than two feet deep.
I thought of the leaf blower, but no – surely the noise would make me more anxious. Probably drive me right over the edge. I kept sweeping.
Then I thought, well, maybe it would be cathartic. Like breaking glass, or burning old paper in a bonfire. Maybe the roar would dispel the anxiety, blast it out of my system.
I got the damn thing out of the garage, unwound the double extension cord and plugged it in. Gritting my teeth, I pulled the switch.
I pointed the blower snout like a fire hose at the nearest pile of leaves. And immediately began to laugh and laugh.
The leaves danced straight up into the air, as though taken by surprise; blew into a huge puffy circle, and then danced their way around and down. It was like watching a flock of hysterical and clumsy chickens.
I aimed at the top of the pile. The leaves flew up and drifted down like huge confetti pieces. My own private ticker tape parade!
I ran around the driveway pointing the leaf blower and making parties. I laughed and laughed.
I was out there for an hour with that thing. It takes awhile to clear big piles, and some of them I pushed back and forth across the driveway on purpose. The masses of leaves looked like waves as I blew them, and I felt as powerful as an ocean god.
Underneath the piles were stockades of acorns, and when I pointed the blower at them, they shot across the driveway like startled round rabbits. That made me laugh, too – there’s something inherently funny about inanimate objects that acquire a sudden life force and don’t know what to do with it.
Afterward I felt so much better that I took a long walk. Smiling.
Who needs Valium when you have a leaf blower?
Today’s penny is a 1991 – the year Santa Monica banned leaf blowers.