One of my favorite joys of autumn used to be raking leaves. It was one of the few household chores I did where I could see the results, unlike dusting or vacuuming. When youre raking leaves, you can tell when youre down to the grass by the feel of the tines of the rake against the grass and by the sound. It was also my grown-up way to play in the leaves and enjoy a brisk fall evening. Yes, Id prefer to go for a walk in the afternoon sun and then rake leaves after dark. Someone driving down my street who didnt know me might have thought it rather odd to see a woman out in her front yard, raking leaves without even having a light on. I liked it that way, because I hate being a spectacle. I dont like the idea of having people watch me, whether its dragging my garbage out to the curb, pulling weeds, shoveling snow, or raking leaves. But just in case they were, Id make sure they got their moneys worth. I always bought paper leaf bags, but because Im thrifty, Id start by filling two empty garbage cans. As the leaves began to fill the can, Id tamp them down by climbing in and tromping on them with my feet. It was quite effective, because I had more strength in my legs than in my upper body. Id swing one leg over the top and climb in, no easy accomplishment by a shorty like me. Then Id lift the other leg, ballet-style up and over and begin the tromping. Who knew that all those years in ballet lessons would lead to this? Id repeat this exercise until I got as many leaves as I could in each can. Because my front yard is not perfectly smooth, and there was a slight chance that the can could tip over, Id set the can under the maple tree in the middle of the yard and hold onto its trunk for balance. Then of course the challenge was to find my way back to the front door without any sound cues to guide me. Aha! A sound cue was what I needed. I would place a radio just outside my front door, with the volume set just high enough for me to hear it. It kept me entertained as well. The neighbors didnt need it. They had entertainment enough watching that crazy blind lady climbing into her garbage can and dancing on her leaves.
Last Sunday, I had the most pleasant of surprises. I had been putting off the leaf-raking project because of my sciatic pain, and procrastination proved to work out for me. When I came home from church, not only were all my leaves raked, but also bagged too and out by the curb. My maple tree has finally thrown off all its leaves, and the ground is covered again. Dear kind neighbor, whoever you are, I promise to bake you a cake if youd just do that one more time.