The leaves of wrath

Last weekend I had the unfortunate task of raking, an annoying activity the point of which I still don’t understand. It’s nature’s work, just let it be. We don’t prevent leaves from blooming in the spring by choking trees, so why collect and remove what is clearly nature’s plan?

What would happen if I didn’t rake (other than my dad being extremely disappointed and potentially grounding me)? Nobody knows. Like sharks forced to swim while they sleep, raking is apparently in our DNA. We enter this world knowing how to suckle and begrudgingly ruin our weekends by stuffing dry, smelly colored leaves into brown sacks which are, coincidentally, also made of parts of tree. Judging by their price, they’re also infused with tiny rubies. Why leaves can’t just disintegrate is just one of the six reasons why nature is horrible and out to kill us all.

I went at this task alone because my children do everything in their power to delay or prevent me from doing anything productive. In that way, they’re very much like my couch. Example:

Child: “Dad, can I have some pancakes?”

Me: “Well, looks like I can’t rake My wife doesn’t like to rake if it’s not “her idea.” Strangely, it has yet to be her idea.

But I wasn’t alone this year — at least, not completely. Some neighbors were outside having a dinner party and, unbeknownst to me, I was apparently the entertainment. The following is how I imagine my dumb neighbors’ conversation.

Nancy: “Hey Patrice, come look at this.”

Patrice: “What is it?”

Nancy: “Look at this guy trying to rake his lawn all by himself.”

Patrice: “All by himself? Wow. What a strong man. He’s like Bear Grylls, only tougher and stronger and so much more handsome.”

Nancy: “You know it, girl. Come look.”

Patrice: “Why not? We’ve got nothing better to do with ourselves. As we are friends and/or family this prevents us from having to converse with one another socially!”

Thad: “Hey dummies, did I hear that there’s a way I don’t have to talk to you horrible people about your lives?”

Nancy: “You heard right, Thad, you big oaf sandwich. Look at that guy trying to rake his lawn.”

Thad: “The wind has to be blowing at 30 miles per hour!”

Scorch: “It’s actually 32 with gusts to 37.”

Thad: “Thanks for that, Scorch.”

Nancy: ‘This is going to be great. Nobody loves him.”

Patrice: “Isn’t it funny how all of our leaves accumulated on HIS lawn?!”

Thad: “Well, I used my leaf blower to help persuade some of OUR leaves to join his. It looked like a party over there and I didn’t want them to feel left out. “

Nancy: “That was so considerate.”

Thad: “I know. Plus, it’s a lot less work and frustration to just blow them away. I mean, just look at how awkward he is!”

Patrice: “He can’t get a bag open without the wind blowing it shut or down the street!”

Scorch: “He runs like a gazelle.”

Thad: “I even gathered leaves from around the neighborhood and dumped them on his lawn.”

Beatrice: “That’s the only reason I can see why there’s so many over there! You’re an incredible jerk, Thad!”

Thad: “I know!”

Patrice: “Watching him try and open the bag in this wind is probably the funniest thing I’ve ever witnessed that wasn’t produced by Tyler Perry.”

Beatrice: “I’ve wet myself thrice already!”

Patrice: “That’s awful.”

Beatrice (forlorn): “I have poor urinary control.”

Thad: “The bag keeps falling over EVERY time he tries putting leaves in it. Is this for OUR benefit? Because if it is, I’m starting to feel the need to tip him.”

Patrice: “Oh my God. It just fell over again!”

Nancy: “Now he’s trying to brace part of it against that oak tree.”

Scorch: “Oak trees have great strength and hardness and are very resistant to insect and fungal attack because of its high tannin content.”

Patrice: “That bracing idea is a good one; too bad the wind is smushing the bag closed.”

Beatrice: “Oh! The wind is calming down for a moment. Here’s his chance!”

Patrice: “He’s got a big scoop of leaves. This is it!”

Thad: “Ah hahaha! The wind came up at the last second and blew the bag away as he was dropping the leaves. Look at them scattering around away from the pile it took him 20 minutes to rake!”

Patrice: “Now he’s kicking the pile of leaves all around the yard and yelling at the wind.”

Scorch: “I don’t think kicking the leaves is going to solve his problem. See, what he needs is a way to control the wind. With like…a wind-controlling device.”

Nancy: “Shhhh! Can you hear him? He’s pleading with his wife to let him spread gas on the yard and just burn all the leaves. Like that’s safe.”

Thad: “Well, I think he’s saying he’s an expert with flames and has the garden hose out ‘just in case’. That’s reassuring.”

Patrice: “We have insurance, right?”

Nancy: “What is this I’m drinking? A mint julep?”

Thad: “That’s an actual drink!”

Nancy: “It looks like formaldehyde and tastes like aquarium water.”

Scorch: “I’m carrying Thad’s baby!”

Thad: “What?”

Scorch: “Seriously. Here he is. In my arms.”

Thad: “Scorch, put him back.”

Nancy: “Now what is he doing?”

Thad: “It looks like he’s doing some kind of anger dance.”

Patrice: “It looks like he’s moshing.”

Nancy: “Oh whatever, PATRICE. Like YOU know what moshing is.”

Scorch: “”I have alopecia.”

Fredrik: “Somebody should really go over there and help the poor guy.”

All: “Hahahahaaha!”


Kelly Van De Walle can be reached at or via gangster rap battle. Follow Kelly on Twitter @pancake_bunny for lawn maintenance tips like this one: When cutting your grass, make sure to do it one blade of grass at a time with a ruler and sewing scissors for optimum results.