Fall Folly

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.


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  1. DJRippert Avatar

    Yeah, it’s like taking showers or combing you hair. No sooner do you finish then, the next day, you have to do it all over again. I’ll bet our caveman forefathers didn’t waste their time with soap and combs.

    1. Come to think of it, I’m thinking of growing a beard.

      1. well as less you’re going to grow a full beard and let it go – so you look like a hermit or homeless guy – they require constant care also.

        but you can get away with skipping shaving for a couple days at a time.

        here, what do you think:


        1. What do I think? I think the rooster looks better than the dude with the beard. You’ve convinced me. I’ll trim my beard once a month!

  2. reed fawell Avatar
    reed fawell

    JAB’S piece is quite Subversive. As Rippert makes plain, Cleanliness is next to Godliness. As so too is Leaf Removal. Why? It’s bloody Obvious.

    Can you Stack Leaves? No! Can you Plant then Harvest Leaves? No?

    Can you Line Leaves up into Orderly Rows? No? Can you Tidy Up Leaves? Absolutely Not?

    Leaves are Disorderly. They Refuse Control. And get quite Dirty then Rot!!

    Thus Leaves Threaten, so must be Removed. And be Removed Quickly – by Burning at the Stake – along with all the other Untidy Incorrigible Undesirables that Challenge and Threaten us all daily.

    So Rake ’em High and Burn ’em!

  3. Many years ago a lovely house was built in the woods with towering oaks an hickories all around. A small area was cleared for a septic field an nirvana ensued … until the first fall – and the leaves started coming down.. a few at first, some whirly-gigging their way down to dot the law with color.

    then Fall … REALLY came in the form of wind and rain and the entire roof, gutters, yard, driveway and anything in the yard were submerged and it took days with a blower to just push them to the woods.

    Philosophical thoughts do come to those who hour, after hour, watch and hear the “swooshing” of leaves and at first enjoyable but after 3 hours of it – well.. a chore….

    this has gone on for way, way too many years and some kind of a mulching mower with bags seems called for.

    which reminds me of a VDOT environmental report that I read that proclaimed that water quality is degraded from things like wild animal poop and other nefarious nature insults.

    so ..you see.. the Bay was doomed from the time raccoons first set their grimy little feet in the forest and leaves started falling in creeks.

    see what philosophical thoughts come to mind after hours of blowing?

  4. reed fawell Avatar
    reed fawell

    Exactly! And You Know rotting leaves, causing Global Warming, will be the Ultimate End of us all.

  5. It’s quite possible to mulch the leaves. A couple rains and they are virtually all decomposed.

  6. reed fawell Avatar
    reed fawell

    Murder by Grinding Up = Slaughter. Perfect!

  7. reed fawell Avatar
    reed fawell

    Actually, I am fond of Leaves.

    Fond of the Colorful Ones, the Crisp Ones, the Shiny Wet Colored Ones, and the Soggy Winter Dark Ones, too, even the Compost Ones, whether Spring Green, Summer Hung, Fall Luminous, or Winter fallen, flowing back to Earth’s Nutrient Renewal – Leaves morphing slowly to Grass.

    So I rarely Rake. And I never Burn. And, if Rake you must, do it Gently. Minimally.

  8. The trick to not raking leaves is to not have big trees. Plant a small tree and cut it down before it gets too big. Down here they like to have pine trees, which grow real tall and leave crud all over the place, until a strong wind comes along and plants it in their bedroom. But the real nuts are the oak lovers.

  9. big trees produce heaps of leaves… enough to bury a yard in 6 to 12″” of leaves if you leave them. take my word for it. I bet DJ has a few also.

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