Here on Georgetown Island, spring so far has been temperate enough for me to do the leaf work left undone from last fall. As a result I’ve been spending recent weekends blowing leaves.

I get into my gardening habit, jeans and shirt purchased in the ’90s, an old college sweatshirt, my gardening clogs and a baseball hat. My socks are pulled up over my jeans, my padded gardening gloves on my hands. I am ready for my weapon.

On this workday my husband helps me hoist the leaf blower on my back – this after he’s prepared the fuel mixture – and I start working the beginning of our driveway, through the small copse that the driveway bisects. I push the leaves away enough so that eventually a nice, park-like effect will appear.

While I work, I notice the suckers around the more mature trees, the small pines that are larger this spring, and try and pick up the twigs and other branches that strong winter and early spring winds have blown down. This last is tricky, and I decide to leave that chore for another day as stooping with my “backpack” requires more grace than I can continuously muster.

Cutting out the suckers will also be part of another clean up, for I am committed to emulate the trim effect of my neighbor’s woods.
The machine and I work together, even accomplishing an acrobatic stumble when I trip myself going up a small incline. The leaf blower tumbles over my back as I fall forward. Our house is about 400 feet away, and my husband is up there with his tractor.
He is moving gravel, scattered by the winter’s snowplowing, back into the driveway. He can’t hear me.

As I am in the act of falling, my mind flashes with the feeling that this fall is going smoothly enough. My hat falls off, and my forehead gently hits the dirt. Picking myself up and brushing that little bit of dirt off my face, I am pleased to notice that I don’t feel stressed from the stumble.

I am even able to slip the leaf blower back on my back and continue driving forth, like the western wind, the leaves in my path.

I aim the hose underneath the piles caught around the fir trees, tossing the leaves as if they were being raised up and down by children holding a blanket. Then the force of the wind drives them farther into the little woods, down some inclines where they can mulch, for the most part out of sight of anyone starting to move up our driveway.

I relax, working with the machine, enjoying the power to scatter. Thoughts erupt from time to time – sometimes these are about particular concerns I have anxieties about.

But while I work, I examine these objectively, without passion, freeing all from their emotional tangents. I understand that as much as I care, I have little control, if any, or effect over the unwinding of these issues.

Letting go – if only during my work – my involvement and consequent suffering is so easy while I whoosh the leaves out of my path, forcing them in places where they can stay and not return. If only all the detritus of my life could be dealt with so easily.

Hours go by – or at least the time required to use up the fuel, and the work eventually becomes pleasantly mindless. Literally out of gas, I look around noting that the birches and pines, now free of the decay around them, stand proud. Right now I feel accomplished, achieving enough order inside and outside.

— Special to the Telegram

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