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The Rake’s Progress

leafblowerthumbToday, despite the fact that the invention of the rake was one of the seminal moments in human history, ranking right up there with the wheel and Wiffle ball, we need to tell nearly everyone what it is and why it is so important to them and us, especially the young ones, who may never have seen one.

 

By TW McDermott


rakeThe implement shown at left is called a rake.


When I was a young man, nobody needed to explain to anyone else what this implement was or its uses.

 

Today, despite the fact that the invention of the rake was one of the seminal moments in human history, ranking right up there with the wheel and Wiffle ball, we need to tell nearly everyone what it is and why it is so important to them and us, especially the young ones, who may never have seen one.

 

In olden days, before 1980 or so, people used this tool to gather leaves in autumn or, as it is more popularly and descriptively known, fall. The rake made a pleasant scraping sound when applied to paved walkways and roads, and a more muffled, yet no less wonderful sound on lawns, like combing your hair (people carried combs in their purses and pockets in those days like we carry phones today).


Amazingly, back then, autumn leaves were treated as fairly harmless inconveniences. We gathered them and even burned them; we did not fear leaves as we do today — as a dangerous environmental and aesthetic hazard.

 

Contrary to current understanding, there was a time in recent history, when there simply was no urgent need to gather leaves at any other time of year, except autumn.

 

In winter, spring, and summer, if a few haphazard leaves happened to fall, say from a hurricane, people actually just left them on the ground, and it didn’t constitute a crime subject to a heavy fine or lengthy period of banishment from a community.

 

Today, of course, we treat fallen leaves and other plant material as real threats, which must be quickly and loudly blown, gathered, bagged, trucked, and eradicated. Someone has decided that a leaf or two or more can be detrimental to our way of life — at least our old way of life, which was much, much better than our current way of life, but we don’t remember exactly why.

 

leafblowerinsideAnd, so, we have developed a special system of 24/7/365 professional leaf removal services. This industry provides thousands of jobs and is the one area in which we can definitely say that we dominate in a way that China can only dream about, aside from the fact that most leaf blowers are made there.

 

These days, we attack and pulverize leaves: the earlier in the day the better, but we do it all day if needed, especially on Saturdays and Sundays. We have also discovered that leaves are attracted to loud noises, and this requires more powerful implements requiring electricity or, as is often the case with professionals, gasoline.

 

You can see one of these gas-powered machines above. Rakes actually made small, distinctive piles of leaves, while this baby blows leaves so fast, hard, and far, along with all kinds of dirt, rocks, and debris, that there are no little piles of leaves.

 

Did we mention that a leaf blower is very, very loud? It sounds like a small jet taking off from your lawn or a million billion Biblical-style locusts stopping for lunch on their way to Mt. Sinai or the Fertile Crescent. Remember, leaves do not hear as well as humans, so it is entirely necessary to blast that volume.

 

Just last Saturday we were playing a much too quiet game of doubles, when a man with a gas-powered-leaf-blower (many women favor use of electric models, tethered to a socket by a long power line like a spacewalker’s), a veritable Harley-Davidson blower, started in on some renegade September leaves.

 

Gone was the sound of a sail line flapping against a mast, gone were the gulls squawking atop the boathouse, and gone, gone, gone were the sounds of racquet strings striking fuzzy balls.

 

Gone too was the gentle and harmonious sound of a rake, following its destiny, scraping leaves into small piles.


Gone, but not forgotten by the few, the loyal, the dreamers.


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