Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Leave it Alone


When I visited my parents a couple weeks ago, I snapped a picture of a pile of leaves on the side of the street, waiting for leaf pick up. It's a very ordinary thing, and I wouldn't have bothered to photograph it at all except that I knew it was something my children had never seen. Here in the stupid suburbs we used to have to rake everything up and put it in bags by the curb awaiting pick up. Bags designed to look like pumpkins and ghosts were very popular. Who doesn't want to decorate their yard with festive trash bags? (And let's not even get started on taking a substance as biodegradable as leaves and tying them up tightly in a plastic bag. Ahem.) This year, we are not even given that option and have to find a way to dispose of "all yard waste" ourselves. It's time to start composting, but that's a digression I'm not gonna take today...

Because I'd rather talk about those piles of leaves.

As a kid I remember loving walking through them. I loved the way they smelled and I loved the way they resisted just a little bit as I kicked them up. I loved the way they fell back down - unpredictably predictable. The final destination was always the ground, but if they weren't wet, they would float and drift and sometimes even dance before returning to their place on the street. I loved the way it sounded when they started to dry and produced an audible whoosh as I walked through them, breaking the crisp stillness of an autumn day.

I was always cautioned, though, to not kick with abandon - because something could be hidden under the leaves. I was never told exactly WHAT to look out for - just that SOMETHING might be there. It was easy for a young girl's imagination to run wild. Someone might stash TREASURE under those leaves was a common theme on the way home from the bus stop in the bright afternoon in the company of friends. We would carefully kick at every pile, just to make sure. As the street lights came on, more grisly things were imagined lurking in those piles. Crazed injured animals. Murderous fiends who would grab your ankles. Zombies waiting for the last vestiges of daylight to disappear before beginning their nightly quest for brains.

When I learned to drive, I was cautioned once again not to drive through the piles of leaves. Idiots who thrive on schadenfreude could stash cinder blocks there, ruining your tires or worse. Kids could be playing in the leaves. Zombies - well, no. My parents didn't warn me about zombies. Still, though, better safe than sorry. What if you started to run over one but instead of killing it, just pissed it off? What if THAT happened, huh? Somewhere along the line, I took all of those warnings and imaginary scenarios and convinced myself that there were - or at least COULD be - babies in the leaf piles. That did the trick. I have NEVER driven through a pile of leaves because - sure - there's probably NOT a baby in it, but what if there WAS? How would I feel THEN?

Welcome to my world of fear and irrational paranoia. It's unnerving here sometimes, but the colors are pretty.

And for the love of all things holy, if you live in a community that still has leaf pick up, DON'T DRIVE THROUGH THE LEAVES!

Thank you.

38 comments:

5thsister said...

I lived in a small town once where weekly, in the fall, a truck came by and sucked up all the leaves you left at curbside. That was pretty neat. The town I live in now has a yard waste container for you to use. I never understood "bagging" leaves. Wasteful.

Badass Geek said...

I think all the warnings to not kick the leaves is so the piles that take forever to get raked up don't get ruined and redistributed around the yard.

Stacy (the Random Cool Chick) said...

Love the picture! Here in Small Town America everyone rakes their leaves to the edge of the street for the special 'leaf removal' day. It's always fun driving through those areas and seeing the big pile'o'leaves.

I always loved walking through them, too - just like you described. I remember my parents telling us not to kick the leaves, too...and I'm guessing it's for the reasons Badass Geek mentioned...(GRIN!!)

Tsquared417 said...

You're hilarious. We love the leaves here...and I would NEVER drive through a pile!! :)

sheila said...

That actually happened around here a couple years ago. A young boy was playing in there and got killed. So sad. Also, happened with snow. Some kids were playing in a pile of snow on the curbside...snow plow came along. Awful.

Beautiful pic though!

Tater Tot Mom said...

Wow, after Sheila's comment maybe it's not such an irrational paranoia after all!

I have those irrational moments too - they seem perfectly normal to me- I mean doesn't everyone think that the guy in front of them at the checkout is some sort of crazed serial killer because he's buying trash bags and duct tape? :)

SparkleFarkle said...

Your wonderful blog post leaves me with fall memories from my own smitch-hood: after the jumping-in, leaf piles would be set ablaze by the adult rakers. The whole town smelled delicious! I always wished to be a bird who could see all the smoke-wisps from up high! Thanks for the ride on the Wayback Machine!

Becky said...

LOL~ We do have leave pick up here.

Now you have messed with me....agh!

vixensden.com said...

Ya, had me at zombies. Babies sealed the deal, but you had me at zombies.

Sassy Chica said...

I too love falling leaves and piled leaved, I haert the ook, smell, etc...and I will not kick or drive thru a pile again, I am now scard.

Smooches,
Sassy Chica

Rosa said...

Gorgeous post. I always loved kicking through the piles of leaves--the sound, the smell, MAN, I love that smell. My own paranoia never extended to zombies in the leaf piles but you can bet it does now! The last thing I want is to piss off a zombie by merely maiming and not killing. Thanks for the tip. :)

MiMi said...

Oh my goodness, from the very first part of this post I was thinking, "Don't drive thru em!!" cuz that's what I learned about it too! And I've NEVER driven thru them because of the "maybe baby." :)

Vivienne said...

Schadenfreude (along with amorphous) is one of THE best words EVER!

Of course I have worried about Zombies or It under the leaves, but had never thought about babies or little kids. Now I have something else to fret about. Thanks, Tam.

The Blonde Duck said...

How funny. Popped in from SITS to say hi!

Pam said...

Three things:

First, I've never heard of leaves being picked up simply by being raked into the curb. Brilliant. Here, we bag them in paper (biodegradable) bags and the town takes them to a giant compost center. (My tax dollars at work.)

Secondly, my grandfathter warned me about driving over leaf piles (or anything really that might be in the road) for the same reason. Not babies exactly, but children could be playing/hiding in them. I've told my daughter the same thing. And I never fail to think about that when I drive by a leaf pile.

And thirdly, until I saw Avenue Q last week I had never heard the word schadenfeude before. Now I've not only heard of it, I know what it means. Thank goodness I saw the show before I read your post. I'm learning new things every day. That's another thing my grandfather told me. Smart man.

SPEAKING FROM THE CRIB said...

i am so glad that we live in an older home with older trees... all the kids come to our house to make leaf piles and run and play in them WITH ABANDON! i won't even let my husband mow thru the leaves. i want to look at them littering my yard. they are beautiful to me

kys said...

We have to do the rake and bag method in our town. Or, the way Hubs does it, pay someone to come and suck them all up with a giant vacuum.

carma said...

"For the love of all things holy" - Yay!! a Chris Farley quote on my Chris Farley post day :D

I recall the leaf paranoia too. Remember the big leaf vacuum that used to come and suck it all up?

Joanna Jenkins said...

Ahh, jumping in a pile of leaves. That was the best.

We used to rake the leaves to the curb then a giant city vacuum truck came and sucked them all up! That fascinated me.

xo

Mammatalk said...

I grew up in Southern CA. Not a lot of leaves. Always wanted to play in a pile of dry leaves, though.

Melissa B. said...

We have a leaf-sucking-up-truck-thingy in our little 'burb. When the kids were little, they used to sit on the curb and wait for the contraption to come by so they could watch it do its dirty work. Easily entertained, I guess...

otin said...

I remember actually seeing a film in grammar school about not playing in leaves in the street so that the school bus would not run you over! hahaha!

Sandy said...

Schadenfreude---wonderful word, use it all the time.

Someone, somewhere told me not to drive through leaf piles because kids might be hinding in them....don't drive through snowpiles for the same reason.

Hit 40 said...

I had forgotten about the no yard waste pick up in Columbus. Didn't their tax levy pass??? WTF!!!

BONNIE K said...

Well now that Sheila had to ruin it for all of us, we can no longer comment on irrational fears!

The Grown-Up Child said...

lol! Thank you, that post was great. There really is nothing like walking through leaf strewn grass on a crisp fall day. Love. It.

And you know, I share your tendency for irrational fear and paranoia. I would love to tell you about one of my own, but I'm too wrapped up in disinfecting everything in an attempt to thwart swine flu! ;)

Sir Hook of Warrick aka "David K Wells" said...

I've never seen leaves raked to the street for pickup. We aways raked them up, played in them and then burned them in a burn barrel as a kid at my house.

Now, I mulch them with my mower and leave them to nourish the ground for next year.

Nothing better than the sound of "Swoosh" through the crisp fall air in the Woods!

Sir Hook the Fallen Leaf of Warrick

Unknown Mami said...

At least they didn't tell you that there was a hairy hand that lived under your bed and would get you by the ankles if you weren't careful.

The Peach Tart said...

I remember those days too with fondness.

JennyMac said...

I have never heard of leaf removal day..nor do we have it here. Perhaps because winter never comes. LOL. Love the pic Tammy.

sitting on the mood swing at the playground said...

I love this...thanks for the memories. I want to find a big pile of leaves and jump in it. No, wait, I always got in trouble for that.

!!The Obnoxious SAHM!! said...

Do you have any idea how lucky you are? YOU HAVE SEASONS! I live in Florida where its hot or hotter. (ick)

I haven't seen the leaves change since i was a small child so tech i really haven't seen it (since i don' remember it)

I think it is so pretty.

Sassy Chica said...

Hello Dahhhling...

I heart you and your blog and have passed you a Fabulous Award, click on ova and check it out!

Smooches,
Sassy Chica

ahem, be sure to prepare an acceptance speech...

Alicia said...

awww great pic! and i was always afraid to kick the leaves because i was convinced all the spiders lived underneath...to this day i still don't!

Hannah said...

I enjoyed reading your post about the fallen leaves. It reminded me of my childhood and loving to lie down in the big piles of leaves ......

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WhisperingWriter said...

I'd never drive through a pile of leaves.

We don't get many leaves here. But we do get a lot of snow. Driving through a pile of snow is also frowned upon. Because you could totally get stuck..

mama-face said...

Beautiful post.

I was always afraid of the dog crap hidden in the leaves. We had a lot of dogs, therefore...

Okay, Tammy, this is weird. Last week, I don't remember what the heck I was doing, but I came across the word "schadenfreude". I thought it was interesting enough to look up the meaning. I am looking at the note I scribbled to myself with the definition right now...the meaning which I don't need to tell you because you used that word in your post...

spooky.

blueviolet said...

We have to pay for our leaf pickup. In my last house, we filled at least 150 bags of leaves every fall. They would fall and stack up at least 6 inches deep in the yard. I'm not even kidding.