Autumn is such an inspirational time. The sky is blue, the air is fresh, and the colors are changing. The year is drawing to a close, and there is ample time to reflect—while you rake.
I have a huge yard with two giant cottonwoods and numerous other smaller trees, all of which afford me plenty of raking time, time to ponder life’s biggest questions: Why are we here? To serve others? To reach our potential? To rake?
As I rake, I think about the futility of life…and the futility of raking the thousands of leaves on my lawn when there are still millions of leaves on my trees, many of them still green.
I think about the future and how, if I ever go house hunting again, I’ll research what I can expect in the way of leaves in my potential new yard. I’ll ask the neighbors if the trees drop their leaves a few at a time like my trees do, or if they dump them all at once and get it over with. A few at a time is a deal breaker.
I think about life’s ironies while I rake. It’s ironic that at the point in your life when you need a yard the most, for children to play in, you have the least time to take care of it. It’s ironic that just when you could use those children to help you rake, they go back to school and sports and any number of other activities and you are left holding the rake. And it’s ironic that when you need your evenings to rake, the days get shorter. Of course, even if the days were longer, you wouldn’t want to spend them raking.
The decaying leaves make me think about loss. And I wonder, with sorrow and regret, how so much of what has been lost from my home has wound up on my lawn.
I ponder less weighty issues too, literally. Raking is a good workout. And I rake around myself in a clockwise circle, pulling the leaves toward me. Then I rake in a counterclockwise circle. This way, I can work both sides of my waistline. If I had to rake all year—well, I just wouldn’t—but if I did, I could have a toned, trim waist, were it not for the fact that I like to follow up an afternoon of raking with a bowl of ice cream.
I think about technique while I rake. How, I wonder, can I get the giant paper bags I use for recycling yard waste to stand up when they’re empty so that I can fill them? I think about putting rocks in the bottom. Then I think about how rocks maybe wouldn’t make the best compost.
Sometimes as I work, I hum a little tune—not too loudly. Anyone walking by may think I’m muttering to myself, which I have been known to do, even when I’m not raking.
But no, a Justin Hayward song comes back to me every fall as I rake. Maybe you know it. “My life will be forever autumn since you’re not here. . .” There’s a flute and a lovely assortment of stringed instruments. It’s a beautiful song in a melancholy sort of way and I hear it in my head when I rake. But I revise the lyrics a little to fit my situation: “My life will be forever autumn since you’re not here…to help me rake…”
(Dorothy Rosby is the author of I Used to Think I Was Not That Bad and Then I Got to Know Me Better.