On Tuesday, August 30th, I was making preparations for my wife’s birthday party celebration when we both heard a ground-shaking THUD. That’s a sound we’ve come to know quite well in our heavily-treed neighborhood. Well, one of the oak trees situated on the corner of our lot had come crashing down. Thankfully, it fell far short of the house and also missed the power lines.

I can’t say I was surprised by the event. Maybe two years ago (or was it three?), that particular oak and another one close-by began shedding bark, a clear sign they were dying. I’m guessing they were victims of the gypsy moth caterpillars that I wrote about previously (see here). We also have two pine trees on the property that are dying a slow death due to pine weevil infestation. I procrastinated about removing the 4 trees, because the cost is so astronomically expensive. But this was a wake-up call. I surely don’t need another tree crashing on the roof. Some of you may recall when a large limb from a neighbor’s tree came crashing down onto our roof in March 2017, doing substantial damage (see here). I’m getting a couple of estimates pronto and we’ll go from there. Whose idea was it to buy a house in this neighborhood, anyway?

The one good thing out of all of this is there’s less leaves to collect in November. We started out with 14 deciduous trees when we moved in 18 years ago, but we’ll be down to 7 after this operation is over. However, about 10 of the neighbors’ tall oaks lean over our property.

These expiring trees remind me that death is all around us in this fallen world. Praise God for the gift of eternal life in Jesus Christ!

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. – Psalm 23:4

2021 Leaf Campaign – Week #5

After 4 weeks into the 2021 Leaf Campaign, I had dragged a total of 54 tarps of leaves to the curb. In my last update, I had speculated that only 10% to 15% of the leaves remained on the oaks. That estimate was definitely on the low side. How did I fare in week #5?

Monday was a wash-out. A thin coating of snow prevented me from working on the leaves. But I wasn’t upset. I truly needed a break after a particularly exhausting work-weekend.

By Tuesday mid-afternoon, most of the snow had melted, so I fired up my Husqvarna 350BT backpack leafblower and collected the fallen leaves in the backyard, hauling 4 tarps to the curb.

On Wednesday, I climbed the extension ladder to the roof and blew the leaves out of the gutters. I also raked up 1 tarpfull of leaves that had collected near the front entranceway. The leaves that swirl through the neighborhood routinely collect in the “coves” of the front entranceway and garage.

Thursday was a breezy day and the leaves were coming down from the trees at a good clip. I fired up my backpack leafblower and collected the leaves in the backyard, including those that had accumulated in the ivy patch in the corner of the lot. I ended up dragging 4 more tarpfulls to the curb. A few hours after I finished, it looked like I hadn’t done a thing because of the leaves that continued to fall and others that swirled into our yard from the neighbors. The gutters were completely filled again.

Week #5 saw 9 more tarpfulls hauled to the curb, making 63 total for the campaign. I’m going to end up with significantly more than my usual 60 tarpfulls because of the wet conditions this year. Thursday afternoon there were still some leaves left on the trees as you can see from the photo above. It’s pitch dark when I do my weekend work commutes, so I’m waiting for daylight this morning to see what I’m up against. The weatherman is forecasting rain today and very high winds, so there’s going to be a serious amount of leafswirl in the neighborhood. No surrender! The campaign continues into week #6!

2021 Leaf Campaign – Week #4

Week #3 in the 2021 Leaf Campaign saw my tarp total reach 28, about 47% of the projected grand total of 60 tarps. How did things go this past week #4?

After my three-day work-weekend, I woke up Monday morning to a backyard full of leaves. I strapped on my trusty Husqvarna 350BT backpack leafblower and corralled all of the leaves into two large piles and ended up dragging 7 tarpfulls to the curb. I could have dragged more, but I didn’t want to overtax myself as I had the previous Monday.

I woke up Tuesday morning to a couple of inches of snow covering the yard, definitely not good circumstances for leaf removal. Good thing I had a couple of leaf piles leftover from Monday, enabling me to drag 4 tarpfulls to the curb.

Snow still covered the ground Wednesday morning, but a high of 48F was predicted. By 3PM, most of the snow in the backyard had melted. I fired up my Husqvarna 350BT backpack leafblower, corralled all of the backyard leaves, and hauled 7 tarpfulls top the curb, once again purposely limiting myself.

Thursday was Thanksgiving, but family wasn’t coming over for dinner until 4PM, so I was able to hit the leaves pretty hard. I raked up the leaves that inevitably gather near the front of the house, taking 2 full tarpfulls to the curb. I then cleaned up the mound of leaves in the backyard leftover from Wednesday, hauling 2 more tarps to the road. I hadn’t cleaned up the front yard in awhile and it had a healthy accumulation of leaves, so I started up my Husqvarna 350BT backpack leafblower and blew all of those leaves to the curb.

Friday was a work holiday and I had intended to get some rest, but the morning was perfect for leaf duty so I fired up the Husqvarna and cleaned up the backyard and both side yards. The result? 4 more tarps to the curb.

Wow! Week #4 was very productive! I hauled 26 tarps to the curb in five days, bringing my total tarp tally for the 2021 Leaf Campaign to 54 tarps. As you can see from the above photo right, probably around 10%-15% of the leaves are still on the trees. Can we finally put this campaign to bed in week #5?

2021 Leaf Campaign – Week #3

As I reported last Monday, the leaves on our oak trees were finally beginning to turn color and drop in earnest. How did week #3 in the leaf campaign go?

Monday’s forecast called for rain and snow, but the leaf campaign doesn’t stop for weather. At 11AM, I strapped on my Husqvarna 350BT backpack leafblower and blew all of the leaves that had fallen in the backyard over the weekend into two very large piles. I then commenced raking the leaves onto the tarp and dragging the tarp to the front and dumping them along the curb. Because of the drizzle and snow, the leaves and the tarp were wet and heavy. The wet grass did not facilitate dragging the tarp, either. I finished at 3PM, totally exhausted. I ended up dragging 12 tarpfulls to the curb. I believe my record haul for a single day is 13 tarps. Needless to say, I was semi-comatose the rest of the afternoon and evening until I finally hit the sack.

Unlike Monday, Tuesday was a nice, sunny day. While the leaves continued to fall, there wasn’t a huge accumulation overnight. I leafblowed the east side of the backyard and collected and dragged 3 tarpfulls to the curb, a relative and much-needed respite compared to the previous day. I also blew the leaves in the front yard to the curb and mowed the front lawn for the last time this season.

Wednesday was an overcast day, but no rain. I leafblowed the west side of the backyard, collecting and dragging 2 tarpfulls to the curb. I also mowed the backyard west side for the last time of the season.

Rain was forecast for Thursday and at the crack of dawn I could see the leaves coming down fast as the low-pressure system moved in and the wind picked up. Then the rain started. Would Thursday be a wash out? The campaign doesn’t stop for a little wet weather! I strapped on my Husqvarna 350BT backpack leafblower and collected all of the leaves in the backyard into two big mounds. Just like Monday, the leaves were heavy from the rain and I quit after 5 tarpfulls, leaving the second mound of leaves for Monday.

The 22 tarps I collected in week #3 was a very decent haul. That gives me a total of 28 tarps so far in the campaign, 47% of the projected 60 tarp goal. I have a long way to go.

Huh? Hang on a second, folks.

“What’s that, dear? The to-do list? Sorry, the to-do list is on-ice until January!”

Looking out the sliding glass doors at our backyard this morning, I see that a lot of leaves fell over the course of my work-weekend. I definitely have my work cut out for me for week #4.

Monday, November 22nd, 8AM

2021 Leaf Campaign Kickoff? – Week #1

We have many oak trees in our backyard, not to mention the neighbors’ oaks that lean over our property. That makes for a lot of great shade in the summertime and a lot of falling leaves in autumn. I mean A LOT of leaves. Every year at this time, I gird my loins and start collecting and dragging the leaves from the backyard to the curb, where our town’s highway department picks them up. A typical leaf campaign starts the last week of October and ends the first week of December and involves around 60 tarpfulls of leaves. You read that right, 60 tarpfulls.

We moved into this house in 2004 and for 12 years I took foolish pride in corralling all of those leaves with just a rake, a tarp, and lots of elbow grease. But in 2016, I finally “tapped out” and bought a powerful Husqvarna 350BT backpack leafblower. Man, I should have bought me a Husqvarna way back when we first moved in!

Today’s November 7th and by this time I’ve usually dragged around 25 tarpfulls to the curb. But climate change is kicking in and the oak trees are hanging onto their leaves even longer (see photo above). To date, I’ve collected only 2 tarpfulls. Let’s do the math. There’s 4 weeks left in the campaign and 58 tarpfulls still on the trees, which works out to about 15 tarpfulls per week. I work Friday thru Sunday, so on my 4 days off I will need to collect and haul 4 tarpfulls per day. But it will inevitably be raining on some days, so I’ll need to move even more leaves per day on the good days. That’s a part-time job in addition to my regular full-time job.

I’m not getting any younger and following some recent leaf campaigns I’ve blustered/whined about selling this house and moving into a work-free condo. But the current plan is to stay in the house for as long as possible. I’ll be retiring at the end of November 2022 and the outside housework and yardwork will be a much welcomed diversion. A small riding lawnmower would be a huge help in cutting the grass and hauling the leaves, so I anticipate I’ll be purchasing one of those in the next year or two.

How are you doing with your own leaf campaign?

Throwback Thursday: Spiritual lessons from raking leaves