Raking leaves a fall tradition

For 25 years, we have been raking leaves at our home.
When we moved to our present location, tall elms graced the yard on three sides. They eventually succumbed to the Dutch elm disease, and we replaced those graceful trees with a mixture of maples, ashes, basswoods, and birch.
Those first two years, we would rake the leaves and pile the bags in the alley, where someone would come along and take those leaves and dig them into their garden.
We later began a garden of our own and could get rid of about half the leaves in the fall by composting them into it. The rest we would place under the spruce trees at the northwest corner of our lot.
Leaf-raking was a family activity. When both sons were still too young to go to school, they probably had the best time running through and jumping into the leaf piles. It was a lot of fun.
Later, as they grew up, they found leaf-raking more work than fun.
While our sons were growing up, we would pack those pumpkin bags with leaves and light the bags with an outdoor light for the week before Hallowe’en. Then the day after Hallowe’en, those bags of leaves would be placed with the garbage.
Eventually, we just composted all those leaves under the spruce trees.
As the trees grew, the number of bags went from 10 to 15, and eventually hit 25. Leaf-raking usually was done twice in one season as we first raked the Manitoba maple and one ash tree, which seemed to drop their leaves two weeks in advance of the others.
That usually happened on Thanksgiving weekend.
This year, we put off raking hoping for one more warm weekend. We watched The Weather Network and it indicated that Sunday would be warm enough to dry out the leaves.
It didn’t happen.
Instead, I finished raking the wet leaves in the rain that came down Sunday afternoon. But I discovered a great benefit—the leaves packed tighter than ever before and the number of trips to the spruce trees was greatly reduced.
I would like to say that the leaf-raking is over for the year, but our apple, lilac, and a silver maple continue to remain green. In most years, those leaves are raked the following spring, but on more than one occasion, they have been raked in late November.
Hopefully, it will come as a warm day and the musty smell of the decaying leaves will fill the air one more Saturday.

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