On this beautiful, sunny, fall day when I could have taken a brisk walk through the crimson and gold canopy provided by the trees on the nearby township trail, I instead blew and afternoon removing fallen leaves from my lawn, landscape plantings and driveway.
I’ve long given up bagging the damn things in favor of the much more sensible and environmentally smart option of mulching them with my mower. That not only feeds my lawn with natural fertilizer but saves my back from one of the most useless tasks ever invented by, I’m guess, the people who produce and sell rakes and giant brown leaf bags.
Still, the whole thing is a royal pain and it got me thinking about what’s really going on here. After spitting out my eighth mouthful of airborne maple leaf particles it hit me. Mother Nature is taking advantage of a failure of evolution to scam us into doing stupid stuff our ancestors never bothered with. In fact, I think she’s making a good buck by investing in “stupid job paraphernalia.” Stay with me. Here’s how it’s going down.
Mother Nature, knowing all, as most moms do, saw a trend just as Earthlings started figuring out how to get machines to do work they didn’t want to do. “Hmm…” thought Mom Nature, “what if I plant the seed, since I’m good at planting seeds, as well as bulbs, in people’s minds, that things that happen naturally need to be screwed with. Those who resist will become the bane of their subdivisions and called on the carpet by the condo board for not interfering with an otherwise natural process…like leaves falling in the, duh, fall, or moving snow from here….to there? Those idiots will need to buy all sorts of implements, power tools and supplies to do those jobs. And..and..oh wow! Other people who know that so many people don’t wanna do those jobs will start businesses to do those jobs for those lazy people and I can be a silent partner in all of that and retire to the most Unnatural place in the world…Las Vegas, where no one ever sees the light of day, which means I’m off the hook for good!”
I’m imagining this evil scenario as my arms, shoulders and back send my brain messages to the tune of “you’re a schmuck, a sucker for Mother Nature’s money making scheme so we have to suffer?” Being Jewish, I immediately felt pangs of guilt, made myself a pot of chicken soup and binge watched “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” since her husband is an even bigger schmuck, thereby helping me regain a morsel of self-respect.
A few hours later, as I walked down to my mailbox stuffed with bills and political hate propaganda, I couldn’t help smile as I checked out my immaculate lawn. Crap, it looked great. Not just great, a billion times nicer than any of my neighbors’ lawns. Someone driving down my street would tell right away I foolishly took the whole stupid leaf thing way too seriously. In fact, I distinctly heard a bald guy with a severe mid-life crisis driving his Camaro with the top down nod and cackle as he slowed down in front of my place, “Mother Nature screwed you too?” I’m considering large quantities of Roundup.
Are you a leaf lemming? You know who you are. Around this time of year your internal nav system directs you to travel north to look at the turning leaves. It doesn’t seem to matter how far north you live..you need to go even north-er.
When I lived in Tucson, Arizona it made sense to travel north to the White Mountains or to Flagstaff since Tucson is in the desert and there are no leaves. Although the fools from whom we bought our little adobe home idiotically planted a mulberry tree in the front yard. The poor thing had a few limp leaves, but they never turned anything except crispy in the hot desert sun.
But when we moved to Atlanta, one of most lush cities in America, did I start to scratch my head over the annual migration north to look at leaves turning colors when you could sit on your back porch or patio with a cold beverage and see all you want. Hell, you could watch ‘em turn, fall and then go ahead and rake the suckers without leaving your leaf lair. But no, you were compelled to get in the car and travel to north Georgia or up to the Smokies to witness the natural pigment purging. Yes, those areas are quite scenic and I wouldn’t begrudge anyone their right to travel there. I’m just saying if you want to see orange or yellow leaves there are plenty nearby, or next to a tanning plant, except those leaves turn colors in the summer and spring too.
Now..let’s take the premise to the nth degree. In 1989 we moved more than 700 north to the Detroit area. That’s north, baby! But obviously not north enough. First of all, we quickly learned that Michiganders are obsessed with traveling Up North, which seems to be anywhere north of Bay City, or the nearest Gander Mountain store. They travel Up North year ‘round because evidently the doors on their real homes automatically lock each Friday at 4 p.m. rendering their keys useless. No place to go, but Up North.
So it was no surprise that come fall we were told you had to go Up North to marvel at the turning leaves. “But we used to go north to north Georgia and the Smokies to look at the leaves. We’re more than 700 miles north of that and you’re telling me we have to travel still further north to see the damn things cough up their chlorophyll?”