Shorter days put clamp on outdoor work

For a month-and-a-half, I’ve been negligent in attending to my yard.
I have used the excuses that Marnie and I were travelling, that the great weekends should be spent at the cabin, and, the best of all, it is getting dark too early.
I suspect my neighbours have been wondering when I was going to rake the leaves because they were growing tired of continually raking their lawns as the leaves from my yard blew east across Victoria Avenue.
I even felt a little guilt of watching them rake as I walked off to work in the afternoon.
On Sunday afternoon, I finally got around to yard attention. I raked a small portion my wife previously had raked, filling four large industrial garbage bags with leaves.
Earlier in the week, a friend of my mother had told her he never, ever raked leaves. Instead, he mulched the leaves into the lawn with his mower. I really couldn’t figure out how that would work, but I knew that once the raking was completed, I would be cutting grass.
With that in mind, and my back already a little sore, I installed for the first time the mulching attachment to my mower. I was ready to give my mother’s friend’s knowledge a try and it appeared like a really good short-cut for an afternoon’s work.
I began with a quick run over a lightly-leaved portion of the lawn. The leaves seemed to disappear and the cut grass was presentable. I then got a little braver and found a more leafed area on the side yard.
It, too, looked great after passing the mower over it.
Finally, the mower was ready for the big test and I pushed it around the outside of the lawn. But the motor struggled. The muffler seemed to balk at the work and it was loud.
As I pushed into deeper leaves, the mower stopped as if hitting a big rock. I tilted it back and pulled it away, revealing a huge pile of chopped leaves.
Bells went off in my mind that I had busted the mower, but I pulled the cord and the mower spun back into cutting mode. I gently pushed it into the pile—and it didn’t appear to hesitate.
As I moved into heavier layers of leaves on the lawn, my pace slowed. The mulching was working.
I was able to finish the lawn, instead of raking for several more hours and then cutting it. The lawn was mowed in less than two hours and I had created time for other jobs.
On Canada’s on the CBC’s noon phone-in Monday, Ed Lawrence, who tends the gardens of the Governor General’s residence, advised everyone to mulch with their mower and then rake and put the grass and leave clippings in a compost heap.
I will take some time to think about his recommendation.
My biggest tree, a maple, is just starting to turn colours and its leaves will fall sometime after the first weekend of Novembers. If the snow holds off, they will be cleaned up this year.
Failing that, I will attend to them next spring.
My day lilies and tiger lilies still remain to have attention focused on them. The flower beds have to be turned over, and I have tulips and daffodils to plant. My apple tree also needs trimming, but will wait until after it is frozen.
I still haven’t stored my rods and tackle, which are in the wood shop. The first job this week is to get the shop cleaned and ready for work. I have several projects to complete prior to Christmas so the lights will be on nightly as they start coming together.
And I’m already thinking about outdoor Christmas lights. The time between warm days of fall and snow always seems short. Last year, I was caught and ended up working in the snow to get the outdoor lights up and operating.
I’ll try to beat the snow since the strings of lights are so much easier to put up in the trees on a warm, sunny day. These shortened daylight days leave so little time for outdoor work.
And sending Christmas gifts to my son in Korea will have to happen by mid-November.
The pace of life seems to be getting faster.

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