The leaves are starting to fall this time of year, putting me in mind of one of the few sports that I could have performed at the Olympic level. I am speaking of Speed Raking, which like Speed Walking doesn't look like much at first.
MY version of raking does NOT include any gas-powered machines, so forget that. MY version of speed raking involves old-fashioned tools known as “rakes” and sometimes the judicious use of garbage-can lids as leaf grabbers. Quaint, I know. But sometimes I am such an old-fashioned gal.
But one needs to have a plan of attack in dealing with the layout of one's own yard. Where are the trees that you have to rake around? Are they centrally located on the plot or near sidewalks?
Try not to obsess about every single leaf. Face it, more leaves will fall within ten minutes of when you finish. Deal with it. Such is life, or in le Francais, c'est le vie. Where we might dub this Vitesse Raking instead.
I liked to rake the yard when I was a kid and teen at the old homestead. It was a bit of a job, but I liked being out in the crisp air (appropriately dressed of course) and soaking up what might be the last sunshine till spring. However, I did not have the luxury of taking my time on a Saturday afternoon once I was taking care of mom and trying to work a full-time job.
So I had to learn a new style of raking, yeah you read that right. Instead of laboriously trying for every leaf, I concentrated on the areas covered most densely with leaves from the apple trees we had and from the city elm and maple trees, plus the giant maple tree next door.
That sounds like most of the yard would be carpeted in leaves, right? That sounds like I'd be wading knee-deep in crinkly foliage, right? Not necessarily. Ya gotta assume that I have been at least trying to stay on top of the leaf situation. And ya gotta assume that most leaves fall fairly close to the trees they came from, especially with the shorter trees and shrubs.
So, that means that my plan of attack centers on concentrating on those puddles of leaves and bringing them to the nearest curb. No starting at the corner of the lot anymore – no time for that kind of luxury.
Starting under the small cherry tree near the garage, I rake that bundle towards the next tree nearest the curb, a young tree with mercifully few branches and leaves. Try to picture a row of three small fruit trees along the inside of the lot line, facing three young trees along the center line of the lot, and the curb as the goal still further.
I found that raking a row of leaves in high-density areas like this towards the curb was much more efficient than raking along the entire lot line. The latter strategy entailed a lot more work than I needed to do, and who wants to do that? No one gives ya any brownie points for that kind of thing.
So about three-quarters of the way to the curb, I have a pretty nice mound about fifteen feet long, which I compress to maybe ten feet or so. At this point I can break off sections to take all the way to the curb, raking briskly all the while. You don't have to work up a sweat at this, because you are not actually lifting anything heavy. And the crisp air tends to keep you from overheating, anyway.
I neglected to mention that this is a corner lot, so you may have had a hard time picturing this. But this side that just described is the long side, between the house and the garage. Next up is the front yard which is relatively a piece of cake, because I can just concentrate on the city trees along the curb and push leaves right into the road. About three short strokes of the rake covers the width of the grassy strip. At times all summer I have wished it were covered in gravel or something else I did not have to mow, honest, but right now it does not seem bad at all.
Once the job is done comes the best part, the part where you sit down inside, your cheeks all rosy, with a hot cup of tea or cider or cocoa. And you can look out the window as ten, fifteen minutes later it looks like you did not rake. But that's how it goes, doesn't it?
Now I have to caution you, the one downside that can mess up your speed-raking plans is the neighborhood dog-walker who has not cleaned up after his dog. Now, don't get me wrong, we all love the dogs. But it is the owner who is the mutt! Just watch your step and tiptoe through the tulips as they say. We have ways of getting back at those bad owners but that is another topic for another day...