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April 23, 2009

This Wonderful Life

Guess Where. Chicken Hair.

Because I neglected to rake the leaves from our gardens last autumn, raking became my first springtime chore.

On the very first warm, dry Saturday of the season, I started my day with a cup of strong coffee seasoned with vanilla soy milk, then headed outdoors to tackle the leaves.

I gathered my tools, including three different types of rakes and my beloved leaf blower, which I hold to be one of humankind’s great inventions.

Many times, I have wished there was a similar device for clearing cluttered indoor spaces.

As wonderful as it is, my leaf blower was of little use to me this time. I fired it up and aimed it at the brown leaves that spent the winter congealing underneath snow in the garden bed next to the front door. Instead of scattering the leaves, the blower launched vast flotillas of maple leaves that hovered momentarily before falling, or flapped a few feet then flopped to the ground.

Clearly, automation was not going to be an option, so I gloved up and grabbed a rake.

I started on the little ridge that runs the length of our yard just a few feet behind the house. Using a rake with a broad, plastic teeth, I gently combed the leaves down the slope, careful not to butcher the happy daffodils and little blades of gladiola leaves.

It is delicate work, raking autumn leaves in spring. It requires attention and care to remove what is dead without destroying what is trying to grow.

There’s some kind of metaphor in that, but I was too busy to explore it. As I pulled away the drab leaves, I exposed green, leathery myrtle leaves and the occasional electric yellow sprouts of plants that lacked the advantage of sunlight.

While I was busy with the garden beds, my amazing husband and a friend were sinking posts for a fence that will contain a pig this summer. Bee and Poesy joined me, each wielding a tiny rake and eager to help. By ``eager’’ I mean, of course, that they were both in love with the idea of gardening, but utterly bored by the dull work of cleaning out two seasons’ worth of detritus to reveal the spring seedlings. I can’t blame them, frankly.

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