Leaving leaves alone is good for the environment

  • Saturday, October 23, 2021 1:30am
  • Opinion

If you don’t like my opinions this week, you can take a flying leap…into a pile of festive autumn leaves. (Skip the wet sucker — per Linus van Pelt.)

In this great melting pot of a nation, people have many ways of handling leaves. They rake them into a compost heap, bag them and use them as insulation along the foundation of the house, bag them and consign them to the landfill, where they work their methane-generating magic. (“Here — pull my drawstring.”)

Some of the more cantankerous homeowners take the winged-monkey approach, gazing at the immaculate lawn across the fence and commanding, “Fly, my pretties — fly!”

Me? It has never really occurred to me to be all obsessive-compulsive about leaves. My special account of rats’ rumps is still intact. I might chew leaves up with the final mowing of the season, but mostly I just take a “live and let decompose” philosophy.

No regrets. I’ve done the math, and it’s astounding how much time I have saved over the past 30 years by not submitting to the drudgery of raking — enough time to practice and become a world-renowned pianist. OK, I didn’t technically use that time to sit at a piano and learn to play, but I am a world-renowned napper.

I know. Landscapers are aghast at my heresy. “But you’re harboring mold. You’re suffocating next year’s grass.”

Maybe I’ve been lucky or maybe my grass learned self-defense, but the closest I’ve ever come to suffocating the grass was that time I was saying stuff like, “Fescue, be sure not to get wet for half an hour after you’ve ingested nutrients.”

I am willing to respect everyone else’s choices, but I must note that the National Wildlife Federation recommends not raking at all. They say the leaves provide shelter and food for animals like chipmunks, box turtles and earthworms; butterfly pupae use the layers for protection.

I would consider making a big donation to the National Wildlife Federation if they would just extend their pronouncements to declare that abstaining from folding the laundry makes eggshells of endangered birds thicker or that not cleaning out the attic spares a polar bear from being stranded on an iceberg with Al Gore.

One online commentator said that lawn raking gives you a good excuse to get outdoors and hobnob with neighbors. If you feel the need to make excuses for chitchatting with the people down the street, maybe it’s time to move. Or at least use more clever excuses for being outdoors.

Unless you really have a lot in common with your neighbors, you are inviting awkward situations. (“I see you have trees of the deciduous nature as well. And they’re next to a campaign sign for … the wrong candidate. Darn! I seem to have broken off a few rake tines while making contact with your skull!”)

I know most people are running on autopilot and feel they must perpetuate age-old autumn customs, but then again, the virgins who objected to being offered as human sacrifices were sort of outliers once, too. (“No, scream louder! Louder! Please drown out that cursed leaf-blower!”)

Danny Tyree, distributed by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate. He welcomes email responses at tyreetyrades@aol.com

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