The pains of a fall ritual

If I had a trainer, she would tell me that I should warm up before raking and bagging leaves.
That it would be a good idea to stretch my arm, back, and leg muscles—and that a careful warm-up should take place before tackling the leaves in my yard.
Alas, none of that happened on Sunday. As the morning ended with its focus on pets, I looked at The Weather Network and glanced outdoors to see if it was raining. Upon arriving back home late Saturday afternoon, I had paid close attention to the mat of leaves covering the driveway and backyard.
The Manitoba Maples, the birch, the apple, and the ash trees all had shed their leaves, leaving only the black framework of branches visible.
My yard either was café au lait brown or golden yellow. The grass was hidden even though it had not been cut for two weeks.
So with the clear bell given and not expecting any rain, I went into the garage, dug out some work gloves, and pulled the leaf rakes off the hooks. Without hesitation, the garage door rose and I began raking right at the lip of the garage.
Within minutes, two huge piles of leaves were gathered in the driveway.
I set some goals. I would have the boulevards and side yards cleaned up and bagged by noon. The temperature was just right. The leaves that had shaded the home throughout the summer and early fall months, now fallen, would be gathered up easily.
I thought I had enough bags to do the job, but discovered those two early piles depleted my supply by half, which demanded a quick trip to the local hardware store. It was a good break after two hours of work, but I could tell that my optimism of completing the raking and clean-up would last far longer than I originally had calculated.
By late afternoon, my muscles and bones began to ache and instead of cooling down, I just plunked myself into a chair. On Monday, I had muscles telling me I had abused myself again.
Raking leaves and being outdoors can be a good change of pace. On Sunday, lots of vehicles honked as they drove by. I hope that it was encouragement. Bent over, stuffing leaves into the over-sized bags, I only caught the colour of the truck or car going by.
Some years, while raking, I’ve seen streams of successful hunters go by with their moose or deer packed in the back of half-tons. The trucks, with their four-wheelers, passed by but few animals were visible.
When I delivered papers in my youth, one of the common smells in the fall was that of leaves burning in the gutter of the street. Hubert Preston, who lived on Armit Avenue, could be depended upon on warm late-October days to have a small smoldering fire slowly burning up the leaves from his yard. Everyone stopped and talked to Hubert, and he had time for everyone.
The fire seemed to smolder from the first pile of leaves through to early evening.
When we first moved to Victoria Avenue, I would bag the leaves and someone would come along, quietly remove the leaves, and dig them into their garden. I never knew who it was, but they solved my problem of taking the leaves to the landfill.
You don’t have those smoldering leaf fire smells in Fort Frances anymore. Instead, once the leaves are gathered, they are hauled off to the landfill site.
Maybe next year, someone will come along and gather up all those leaves, grass clippings, branches, and trees and deliver them to the mill’s new hog fuel generation plant.

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