Raking Leaves

“Outdoor Punishment”

Growing up, there were a few constants in my life.

A. According to my sister, I chewed too loud
B. Fantasy novels
C. There were leaves to be raked

Our backyard had around 20 incredible oak trees. One of the trees was so big, we had to build our deck around it. These trees were integral in my love of the wind, but they also dropped leaves, which became the bane of my allergies and my existence every weekend.

I believe chores are an important part of building self-worth and character in a child, but holy shit did I hate raking leaves.

We had this long and narrow strip of concrete that was nestled in between the back of our garage and the beginning of our backyard deck that seemed to naturally collect all the leaves in the world. Also, it seems that all the dust and pollen decided to come along for the ride.

In the fall and summer, every weekend involved me doing an hour of labor, and 95% of those labor revolved around leaves.

I would throw on a bandana and rake pile after pile of dead leaves into a plastic trashbin, then trudge down across my yard and dump the leaves down the side of our hill. It was my own personal Sisyphean task. My eyes would sting from pollen, dirt would be lodged under my fingernails for days, and after the hour was completed, I would spend the next two sneezing.

I hadn’t raked leaves since I was 18, until a few weeks ago when I visited a friend’s house in Echo Park. We’ve been friends for almost a decade, and one of the things we’ve bonded over is a love of projects. Together we’ve built a chicken coop, a gate, new stairs, cleared brush, and more.

Signing up to do yardwork, I began to rake leaves for my friend, and I was filled with a sense of dread as the first world trauma of raking leaves came rushing back. After arranging a few piles, I quickly switched tasks and didn’t even give them a glance.

Also, what are these memories that people on the east coast have of jumping on leaf piles? Sounds like an opportunity to get slugs on you, or worse. Pass.

Raking Leaves – 1 out of 5 Stars

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