The yearly battle with raking leaves in the yard

Published 10:02 am Thursday, February 16, 2017

“Rake leaves or move? I can’t decide.”

That’s a good line from the comic strip “Maxine” that captures my feelings this time of year.

The 70-plus degree weather, absent of any rain, last weekend forced me into that usually springtime task of ridding much of my yard of autumn’s leaves.

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I love watching them slowly fall to the ground from the giant, more than 100-year-old oak trees in my yard each fall and the beautiful scene it creates as they cover every inch of our property like a colorful, thick, blanket. But then winter departs, not that it ever arrived this year, and it’s time to get ready for spring.

I always start with a blower and my riding lawn mower to get rid of as many leaves as possible before retrieving the dreaded rake. The blower drives them out of the flower beds and away from the corners of the house. Then I hook up the mulching attachment to my mower and ride back and forth across the yard until the leaves are reduced to a cloud of dust.

Unfortunately, I can’t eliminate every leaf in such manner and am forced to pull out the rake to get around the thorny rose bushes, the prickly holly and the still wet patches where the leaves refuse to turn loose.

Jimmy Taylor was over at the house for a while and enjoyed seeing my plight.

“Battling those leaves are you?” he asked with a grin.

“And losing,” I replied.

I don’t recall it from my college physics classes, but I know it’s a proven law that whatever direction you are trying to rake leaves, the wind must blow opposite. At times I would throw down the rake and hop back on the mower and go chasing the fleeing pests.

I also learned over the weekend that our 9-month old Yellow Lab Charlie despises the rake as much as I. He barked, bit and jumped around as it drug across the ground throughout my time in the backyard. He has the same reaction to the blower and lawn mower.

I had to toss a tennis ball or kick a soccer ball across the yard for him to chase to finally get a little raking done. When I would get a good pile together ready to be picked up, he would end up in it like Snoopy in a Peanuts cartoon, as if I raked it up just for him.

After two days of blowing, mulching, raking, tossing and kicking, I’m probably 75 percent of the way toward a leaf-free yard. With so much already in bloom around our house, spring may not wait for me to finish the other 25 percent.

I could always adopt Maxine’s point of view — “I like spring. It’s when I officially switch from not raking to not mowing.”

Joel McNeece is publisher of The Calhoun County Journal in Bruce. You may email him at