I’m going to spend the afternoon raking leaves in the yard. I remember as a young boy, walking home from school with my buddies and playing in the large piles of leaves that people had raked to the edge of their boulevard/side of the road. In my neighbourhood almost every house had a large tree on their front yard. And on my street there were mostly Maple and Chestnut trees, with a ka-zillion leaves.
Some of the grown ups would pile the leaves on the street – hoping that the leaves would blow down the street or magically disappear. Others would simply burn them. There wasn’t a recycling program back then – plastic garbage bags hadn’t even been invented yet. In fact, all garbage cans were made of aluminum – and nobody had enough cans to put all of the leaves.
I remember the smell of the burning leaves – they had a distinctive aroma – and it’s one that I’ve always associated with the Fall season. Back then (1950’s) my buddies and I would stand beside the burning fires and watch as the grown up used his rake to stir up the fire. When he wasn’t looking we would throw chestnuts into the fire and then run away. It wouldn’t take long for the chestnuts to explode in the fire. It was probably where and when I first heard the “F” word from an angry grown up shouting at us. I also remember repeating that “F” word at the kitchen table that night and my Dad getting very mad at me. But as he was screaming at me – I could see my Mom at the other end of the table trying to suppress a laugh. My Dad swore but he never used the “really” bad words – and I mean NEVER. In my case, I guess the apple fell quite a distance from the tree – although I try not to use that word more than once in a sentence.
Anyway, I won’t be burning the leaves that I rake today. No, I will be putting them into large paper bags and leaving them on the side of the road to be picked up by the recycling truck. In fact, I think that there is a bylaw against burning leaves – probably due to pollution concern. Maybe so – but it sure would be neat to throw some chestnuts into a pile of burning leaves again.
Well maybe, if I burn just a few of the leaves…..