If there’s one thing more ridiculous than the suburban ritual of cutting the grass lawn once a week (see “The Grass Isn’t Always Greener“), it’s the demented ritual of raking leaves every autumn.
Leaf raking defies reason. Americans expend hundreds of millions of man hours yearly moving leaves from one spot to another. It’s like digging holes so we can re-fill them. Why? If we just left the wretched tree litter alone, the wind would rearrange the leaves for us.
Adding to the irrationality of the practice, leaf raking is the ultimate Sisyphean task. It’s not as if we can ever finish the job. It’s not like, say, planting a shrub. The shrub stays put. But leaves? Oh, no. Next spring, the stinkin’ leaves grow back, next October they start falling again, and the folly resumes.
For millions of years, the great eastern woodlands of North America shed their leaves without anyone feeling the compulsion to systematically alter their location, and the woodlands did just fine. Of all the world’s species, humans are the only one to be possessed by such intrinsically useless behavior. But not all humans. The Indians, you can be sure, did not waste their time with such foolishness. Early Americans did not busy themselves with such unproductive activity. Only modern, suburban-dwelling North Americans appear willing to invest so much energy in such patent nonsense.
Think of all the great thoughts that could be thought, the great words that could be written, the arts crafted, the business plans hatched, the beer drunk and football games watched if we stopped raking leaves. I can think of nothing that would contribute more to the sum of human happiness than quitting this insane practice.