The other day I went and played in the mud.
That’s not entirely true: I did go somewhere and while there was mud (quite a lot of it in fact), I wasn’t actually playing. Rather, I was embracing a minor aspect of contemporary North American middle-class culture. Pity I didn’t have a copy of Campbell with me.
Perhaps I should provide some, you know, context.
It’s fall in Canada. That means that it’s time for depression, for middle-aged men to flirt with dangerous levels of denial and for most everyone to have panic attacks then watch them devolve to plain ol’ despair.
In short, winter is coming. And that means that it’s time to take the snow brushes out of the basement, pile dirt on the roses and…
I’ve mentioned before that we have a few (four I think) Taxus which have the exceedingly handy feature of not having leaves. But we also have a couple of nice specimens of Acer, a couple of nice-but-unfortunately-they’re-evil ones (even though they’re on our money — what was that about money being the root of all evil?), a fairly healthy (if challenging) Juglans, a Betula that threatens the car on a regular basis and a Fraxinus that’s been marked for death.
Those (and some others — this neighborhood was once named ‘Red Oaks’, for example) ensure that there’s no shortage of leaves to rake; I’m kept busy (pity I don’t know anyone named ‘Liza‘) from the autumn solstice until the snow flies — the mix of species means that when one finishes there are others just waiting to join the party. Lucky me — over two months of raking and bagging.
But what’s a misanthrope to do with all those leaves? Sometimes I have to put the car in the garage.
If I was so inclined, I could look up some history along with dates and reasons and stuff but I can’t be bothered. Instead I’ll just say that when I was a kid fall had a distinct smell — the smell of burning leaves. This changed and then fall meant huge trash collections. This changed too; in many places (like here) leaves are now collected independently of trash and then shipped off to a central (well, it’s actually east of town, but you know what I mean) composting facility. Our pickup is next week (I think) but I don’t use it — you have to go out and buy giant paper bags and, well, I’m
disinclined too damned cheap to buy something for the sole reason of throwing it away. (It’s why I don’t grow zucchini.) Instead, I have a stash of plastic bags I’ve accreted over the years — some of them are well over a decade old — that I use over and over again.
There are two consequences to my
laughable pathetic frugality stinginess. First of all, I don’t have a giant pile of soggy paper on my front lawn. Secondly, once I have a ‘large enough’ pile of loaded bags, I have to drive to the north end to get rid of them. (Fortunately, only the barest modicum of motivation is required for this otherwise I’d be in serious trouble.)
So last Wednesday I stuffed nineteen (19) (no) bags of leaves in the car (smallish bags, but that’s still a lot of bags — the prime number makes them easier to deal with) and drove out to an industrial park in the north end — past where the vampires live, past the giant piles of scrap metal, even past the cement plant. Once there I found piles of leaves, brush, miscellaneous yard waste
and mud. Lots of mud. Lots and lots of mud. Lots and lots and lots of mud. So much mud that it was hard to find a place to park: “I can’t park there because there’s too much mud to stand and besides, I’m wearing white shoes. And I can’t park there because it’s not particularly close to the pile I’m supposed to throw my stuff on and I can’t throw leaves very far. I am such a feeb.” And so on. Life is complicated sometimes.
Eventually I found a spot and started unloading. It takes a while to empty nineteen bags of leaves from a car. You have to pull one out, dump it, then — if you suffer from
moderate levels of any OCD — make sure it’s COMPLETELY empty then carefully fold it and find a place to put it while you deal with the other eighteen. Oh well, they always say that slow and steady is the way to go.
I was on about bag eight when a minivan pulled up next to me. Out got a woman in even more inappropriate footwear than me. She squelched around to the back of her vehicle, pulled out a single plastic garbage can (AT MOST half-full) dumped it on the pile, then left.
Pardon? I stood there and tried to decide what sort of situation might prompt someone to drive to an industrial park, brave epic amounts of mud and risk ruining expensive footwear to get rid of something that would fit comfortably in the city-issued green bin (not exactly as shown) and be picked up at the curb in under a week. And besides, 1 isn’t a prime number. Not really.
I couldn’t think of an obvious one, but while I was considering the possibility of homicidal ambulatory trees attacking her house and leaving debris behind that she was afraid might grow into more homicidal ambulatory trees, another car pulled up. This one had two people in it. (I think it was a Buick, but of course that isn’t important to the story.)
Plus one (1) bag of leaves. (Scratch that — half a bag. And inappropriate footwear as well — that seemed to be a theme.) I went back to speculating about the propagation and growth of ambulatory trees — it’s something Tolkien didn’t really cover, after all — and their obvious-but-previously-unsuspected ubiquity in eastern Ontario.)
And I thought I only had to worry about a zombie apocalypse. Why does everything have to be so complicated?