Leaf Math

As it’s now Fall, that means the life cycle of leaves has almost come to its end for the year.  Already at least one tree has divested its bounty into my backyard, and this morning, I got out my tools and gathered them up, toted them to the curb, and placed them next to the street to be collected sometime in the next week or two by the Village.

Of course, something as mundane as that gets me thinking about the sheer volume of leaves in your typical tree.  Just as a matter of example, the tree that turned earliest and dropped its bundle into my yard wasn’t my tree at all.  It belongs to my neighbor to the north.  It just so happens the majority of the branches overhang my fence and while it gives me great shade during the summer, come Fall those same leaves become my problem.

My usual method of collecting leaves is one that my parents taught to me 40-plus years ago.  Dirt simple.  Rake said leaves into a pile, get yourself a handy-dandy canvas dropcloth and rake said leaves into it.  Bundle up the ends, fold over the sides, and drag it to the curb.  Easy peasy.  With this method, I was able to tote three loads of leaves to said curb in a matter of about 15-20 minutes.  Works every time.  I bought the dropcloth about 22 years ago and it’s still working really well.  Okay, a couple of holes here and there as the canvas has aged, but nothing preventing it from doing its job.

Getting back to the math quotient, my conundrum is figuring out how many trips I’m going to be making when the next batch of leaves arrives.  As of now, I have zero trees on my property that generate leaves, but my neighbors have many.  Unfortunately, the majority of the branches on these trees again overhang my property, so they become my responsibility.  On the other side of the property (to the East) that neighbor has 3 very large oak trees, and they don’t turn until very late in the season.  Add in the fact this neighbor quite often is gone for large chunks of every month, so they’re not tending to their yardwork as regularly as one would hope.  So, come Autumn, the leaves either stay in their yard, OR they end up in mine, as the wind doesn’t differentiate about property lines.

Hence the need for ‘leaf math’.  Since these trees have an overabundance of branches, and quite literally thousands of leaves, I’m left to wonder year to year how many trips I’m going to have to make toting someone else’s bounty to the curb.  If I leave it to them, I already know what’ll happen.  Nothing.  Or they’ll be in my yard regardless.  Talking to them about it has already been a non-starter.  And considering the house has been sold 3 times since we moved in here in 2000, it really hasn’t changed the situation.

Suffice it to say, I upped my game a little a couple of years ago when I bought a leaf blower.  Just a small Hitachi hand-held one, and it does what it needs to.  It can cover a bit of ground and doesn’t use up a great deal of fuel.  I use it fairly sparingly, mostly just to corral smaller piles into larger ones, to cover the distance between this pile and that one, or to clear an area that would take too long to rake.  So I’m well situated in that regard.

In the end, I’ll probably have to make better than 20 more trips to the curb.  But at least they will be shorter ones, as I’ve pretty much already handled the majority of the backyard.  I’ll keep the calculator handy though, just in case.  Good thing this doesn’t require calculus.  It’s been a long time since 12th grade.

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