Fall. My favorite time of year. I love the crisp air, the golden leaves, the pumpkins full of candy. There's almost nothing not to like about fall. This year we've had a minimum of crisp air, the temperature's been around 60ish, which is just crisp enough, any more and it would actually be crunchy. We've had an abundance of candy due to the fact that Noah decided to sell us all of his remaining Halloween candy - 3 pounds worth - for a dollar a pound. And we've had an overabundance of golden leaves.
Cleaning up leaves is just about the only yard work that I actually enjoy doing. Is it because I want to commune with nature? Not likely. Is it the innate American spirit that sees wild land and feels the need to bring it into submission and claim it as my own? I doubt it. I think the real reason I enjoy leaf duty is that it is one of the few things I can do during the day that has clearly visible results. Most of my day is changing diapers, breaking up fights, helping with homework, none of which has a paper trail or a nice to-do list that can be checked off. The yard starts as a thick sheet of yellow leaves, but as I work, I can see progress as the grass is once again uncovered. Somehow I don't take the same satisfaction when I reclaim the carpet from underneath a layer of toys.
Since our yard is on the larger side, a standard rake doesn't cut the mustard. I use a leaf blower-sucker-mulcher combo to gather the leaves and crush them into tiny bits. The mulcher looks like an elephant trunk with a handle, strap, and bag to catch the leaf bits, which inevitably has a hole in it so that leaf bits spray out the back almost as fast as I can suck whole leaves in the front.
The mulcher has a hard time with sticks, but it handles Cheerios pretty well, as I learned today. Lest you think that we've hatched some plot to finally get out from under General Mills' thumb by planting our very own Cheerio tree, let me clear it up. The real reason I was sucking up cheerios with a leaf mulcher is much more embarrassing.
The kitchen remodel that we are currently undergoing has left us without a useable kitchen for nearly three weeks, and the thing I've found the hardest to live without is a sink. We've eaten a lot of fast food, microwave food, and cold cereal, but the problem with cereal is that I don't want to throw a half-eaten bowl into the trash can, milk and all. So in true trailer trash fashion, I open the back door and toss our breakfast remnants into the yard. I can only imagine what the neighbors who share our backyard fence must think. We barely know them, and the longest conversation I ever had with the wife was one day in church, she sat down in front of me, turned around and said, "I know what your kids do when you're not looking." Then she turned back around and left me to dangle in the wind of parental self-doubt and internal torment. It's been three years since that happened, and it still makes me crazy.
The one thing I hate about fall is the time change. For the love of Pete, why on earth is this necessary? I'm not one to be too paranoid, but I can't help but think that this is the government's way to screw with us. I'd lead an uprising of bleary-eyed parents, if only I wasn't so freakin' tired.
Sadly, this is the time change that most people look forward to - "falling back" usually means that you get an extra hour on Saturday night to stay up late and party. But for my family, the pain hits in the morning, as 6:00 a.m. risers get up at 5:00 and it takes easily a week to get back on track. Not that the previous track was all that terrific. Darcey, my five month old daughter, sleeps through the night with no effort at all. Zack, the three year old, gets up several times a night lately with various complaints. In fact, last night was so bad that he actually went up to his room and fell asleep at 10:45 this morning! Maybe this is the way to win in Iraq - change the clocks so that the insurgents' children wake them up so early that they want to kill somebody, but they just don't have the strength.
I'm trying, despite my tiredness, to enjoy these last few days of moderately nice weather, being able to be outside or have the door open, enjoying the season. Fall doesn't last long here, and before you know it, winter's here in all of it's bleak misery. All I do all winter is look forward to spring, my second favorite season, where instead of leaves falling it's new growth blooming, like the pansies I planted last week that should be the first things to come up in March or April-ish. In the meantime I'll start researching that Cheerio tree idea - that wasn't half bad!