No Leaf Unturned

No Leaf Unturned

Fall, when a middle aged man’s fancy turns to leaves, and lots of them. What better way to prove my dominion over nature than to capture it in large, orange, plastic bags? I’m not the first guy on the block out there battling any slightly red or brown leaf that has fallen from its perch to maintain a no leaf zone, but I follow a protocol, a semi-sacred ritual that must be adhered.

First, I like to watch the Laurentians come alive with the colours of autumn. Then I utter the same phrase every year: “We should really go for a hike in the Parc national de la Jacques-Cartier near Québec City to enjoy the changing leaves.” But we almost never do, and before I know it, the leaves have already started to fall.

Once the first leaves start hitting the ground, I wheel out my tank of an electric lawnmower and crush the forlorn foliage mercilessly into the ground. I used to use a manual mower with an extremely dull rotary blade, but not anymore. I garbage picked this black beauty on an extension cord after my brother in-law tipped me off that it was lying by the side of the road, waiting to junked. It whined like a banshee when I first started it up, but generous amounts of WD-40 soon had it running like a first class coffee bean grinder on four non-adjustable wheels.
After pulverising the leaves, I leave them on my lawn. I guess that’s where they got their name. I like to let them decompose because it protects and enriches the grass, at least for the next two to three weeks, that’s how long it takes for the rest of their friends to join them. Once again, I play the waiting game. The leaves from my front maple glide down to the ground and then get blown across the street and down the hill. Then the leaves from up the hill find their way to their final resting place on my property and I bag them. It’s the neighbourly thing to do.

I’m getting a little ahead of myself. Even before I start, I have to dress for the part. I don my faded jeans (at least they’re not acid washed), my oldest coat, my lined work gloves that have lost the stitching on two fingers and my souvenir cap from St. Lucia. Sometimes I talk on the phone, but people can’t see the headset I’m wearing and it looks as though I’m talking to myself. I usually prefer the relative quiet anyway. I get out my trusty el-cheapo rake because son #1 has taken my carbon fiber, extra wide Canadian Tire special out to rake leaves around the neighbourhood so that he can save up for an iPod. He’s also taken most of my Costco leaf bags. Well, he can have them because they’re so big that once they’re filled, I have to load them on the back of an ill-tempered donkey to get them to the curb, and I think there are bylaws against owning beasts of burden in the city.

Then I give the lawn a good going over. Every leaf is going to end up in whatever bag I can find whether it likes it or not. Most of my homemade, nutrient rich mulch ends up in the plastic purgatory and whatever grass isn’t holding on for dear life joins it. It’s mostly a solitary pursuit as I receive little help from the rest of the family. Sometimes sons #2 and #3 will run out and jump in a pile that I’ve spent the better part of an hour assembling and then they’ll kick it around for a while. But to be fair, on occasion, they’ve partaken in the suburban leaf gathering rite of passage. Little do they know that a seed has been planted in their subconscious, a desire that grows with each passing year, the longing to leave no leaf unturned.

Categories: Opinion

About Author

Jason Enlow

Jason Enlow is a Special Education Technician at an English elementary school. He was born in Montreal, Quebec and grew up in Burlington, Ontario. Jason studied Radio and Television at Ryerson University in Toronto. His previous employers include CityTV, CBC, The Weather Network, and Global Television. He’s worked as a DJ, camera operator, musician, teacher, translator and video game content designer. Jason moved to Quebec City in 1997 where he still lives today with his wife and three sons.