We live near the airport, but it’s been quieter since the virus showed up. The other morning, as I lay awake listening to the birdies, I heard an awful noise that got louder and louder and I got all worked up over the idea that anyone would be operating a goddam leaf blower anytime let alone that hour of the morning, until I realized it was just an airplane. Shame on me. I was blaming some nameless neighbor–although I did have a particular neighbor in mind–for something that wasn’t even happening. So. There is definitely a lesson to take away from this incident.
And that is that leaf blowers are as loud as a fucking airplane. They are.
Whatever it takes to get a five billion pound metal tube in the air and keep it there is as fucking noisy as the little backpack tube we use to terrorize the last cherry blossom into the street.
And there is no reason for it to exist. It should not exist. The job it does shouldn’t be done. Perfection is a trap.*
Oh sure. It does the job it does way more expeditiously than a rake or a broom or whatever else one might apply to the problem. You can spank your lawn clean in no time and all it costs is one more wasted bolus of fossilized carbon and the good will and serenity of your neighbors, many of whom have trouble concentrating over the sound of a tyrannosaur stepping on Legos.
So let us review. We can now accomplish something at great speed that doesn’t need doing and wasn’t done ever until about forty years ago in spite of the fact that we as a species have been fine for over a million years without doing it, and not only will we leave our surroundings aesthetically dull and completely useless to our fellow planet inhabitants, but we will do it with all the ambience of a one-ton mosquito having dental work done. There are vanishingly few mosquitoes that weigh a ton and those that do rarely need dental work, and there should be exactly the same number of leaf blowers.
Nothing needs to be that tidy. If you absolutely have to scrape all the leaves off your lawn and dump them in the street gutters, it can be done with a rake, fueled by a sandwich. But there’s another side to your compulsion to tidy. Imagine, if you will, a sumptuous banquet laid out before you. It’s coming on winter, but you’re in great shape. There are seedpods to dangle from and berries to scarf and leaves to scuff up for delectable worms and grublets. Your very beak is watering just thinking about it. And then someone comes along and upends the table and dumps the entire banquet into the trash. Someone whose obsessive-compulsive disorder is triggered by a table crumb. Why, in the general scheme of things, should the guy with the mental affliction be in charge? It would be like finding some guy who’s uncomfortable when he’s not surrounded by pasty rich people, and letting him run America.
And if we gotta have that guy, we should at least make him quieter.
*Edited to add: Dispersing tear gas is an acceptable use for a leaf blower.
We don't rake up leaves in the winter, nor do we deadhead the spent flowers. The leaves are home to some of the creatures here at Manderly — some of them being mice, which would otherwise reside in our attic. The seedheads feed birds, although we do supplement them with feeders. We have a lot of trees, and as I tell anyone who will listen (and many who won't), nobody rakes the forest, and yet it doesn't become inundated with leaves. They decompose and form soil, which sounds a difficult job for Nature, but it gets me out of raking leaves.
I admit to deadheading during the growing season to keep things going but I sure don't do it at the end. And I don't do it MUCH in the summer because I don't get around to it.
I was thinking about the Dads with Leaf blowers being the a good reason for using a leaf blower as I was reading your post. In normal situations they really are super noisy. We are not that picky about our sidewalk or driveway, so if we remember to sweep the sidewalk after mowing that's good, it won't get tracked into the house. If we don't sweep the side walk, grass gets tracked into the house and I have to sweep it up. The driveway has to fend for itself, plus the robins and sparrows make nests from that dried grass and also search for snacks there. In the past there was a mama rabbit that used the driveway grass trimmings to build her nest right next to the driveway. She did that for three springs. It was so cute watching her gathering up the grass and taking it to line and cover her nest. The babies also had a nice soft layer of mama rabbit's fur to keep them cozy.
It is safe to say we will probably never own a leaf blower, unless tear gas comes into use in our neighborhood, and with things the way they are now, one just never knows.
See, I get to skip all that because I don't have a driveway. Or grass.
For the inevitable conflict coming to our neighborhood, I'm stocking up on leaf blowers for the tear gas.
How hard is it to obtain a gas mask?
We let the leaves lie on the lawn all winter for the bugs. But I must admit that we blow our looong driveway and porch so that grass clippings (which we allow to fall back on the lawn) and errant leaves do not get tracked into the house.
Extra points for saying you let your leaves "lie."
Strangely enough, we were taught that people lie and things lay, so I would have been at odds. Perhaps that is a generational difference or was I not paying attention?
Lie is intransitive; lay is transitive:
A person (or object) lies on the bed
A person lays an object on the bed
A person can also lay another person, though the connotation is rather different.
Some of the confusion probably stems from the fact that the past tense of the intransitive "lie" is "lay", identical in form to the present tense of the separate transitive verb "lay".
Of course, don't confuse "lie" in the sense of "he lies on the bed" with "lie" in the sense of "Donald Trump lies", which is actually yet another different word, with a different past tense form — "Donald Trump lied". This language was not intelligently designed.
I'm sure it's a lost cause, but you gave me pause, Cop Car, because I've never heard that "people lie and things lay," but it's not so. Leaves lie. Tea leaves can REALLY lie–I wouldn't trust 'em.
This just in from Cop Car, who says she is having trouble putting in the comment: "Surely we were taught differently, Infidel; and, yes, we were taught about transitive and intransitive verbs – even as they applied to people's lying (abed). It is just that "lie" was not applicable to non-humans.
In addition, although at a later date my boss swore she had never heard of them (she was about 25 years younger than was I) we were taught about gerunds. I admit that engineers are not known for their expertise in grammar."
Most planes that go over us are barely visible dots in the sky. Except for Life Flight helicopters there is little noise coming from the sky. The younger contractors around here sometimes use leaf blowers to remove snow from a metal roof that they need to work on. Since snow absorbs sound and everyone's windows are shut it isn't so bad.
P.S. Tear gas dispersal is the best use for them that I have ever heard of.
There is no other good use.
I agree about leaf blowers. Why, people, WHY? I do love it, though, when the leaves the guy blows into the street blow right back into his yard. Karma, baby.
I've noticed the lack of airplanes here, too. It's eerie. And awesome.
I think it's picked up a little, but even car traffic is still way down.
Living within the flight path of an AFB that is home to a few dozen tankers, we've never lacked for airplane noise, despite the virus. Car traffic is nearly up to "normal".
Around here, there are local ordinances making it illegal to let grass clippings stay in a gutter (not "lie" or "lay", you'll note) let alone leaves. Not that everyone follows the law, mind you. Such leavings clutter up the storm sewer system – and – contribute to already abundant rotting plant matter in the streams/river.
I don't think our car traffic is back up yet. Around here, we keep our leaves in our house gutters until the basement floods. I don't recommend it.
Plane noise is significantly reduced here too. Yay. Only one of our neighbours uses a leaf blower. Also yay.
I am however very glad to live on this side of town. On the other side of town drones are being used to deliver coffee and toasted sandwiches to those who are unable to make their own or mask up and go to a contactless service point. They freak out the birds, dogs, small children and would freak me out too. Hiss and spit. Again. A private mantra of mine which gets a LOT of use.
Drones! I hardly ever see (or maybe notice) them. Now I'm predisposed to hate them too. I can hate lots of stuff–I'm open-minded.
"unable" to make their own?? I'd say unwilling, the lazy buggers.
Is it really evil of me to hope that these lazy twats just starve to death? There's obviously not nearly enough chlorine in the gene pool.
I wish it too.
On the other hand, I'd happily take a toasted sandwich that dropped out of the sky for me.
Humorous sweary indignance is just the best. With a side order of political satire. Perfect.
That always seems to happen even when I don't know I'm going there.
I'm ready to start the anti-drone movement. Just as soon as the ever curling surveillance planes come down to earth for good, oh dear- that might be never…… no privacy anywhere anymore.
I must not look up enough. No wait–I totally do–there are Vaux's swifts up there.
I dislike leaf blowers too, just use a broom and a rake for the sake of the exercise gained, then dump the heap into your compost pile or bin. Just remember to leave some for the birds and worms on your lawn and keep only the driveways and paths cleared.
Ooo! The neighbor girl and I would rake leaves into house blueprints and walk in and out of them.
Great idea. Blueprints are my favourite thing to play around with, planning furniture layout, decor colours, gardens, where to put the washing line and cubbyhouse eyc
Based on how long it takes my neighbor to blow off his postage stamp sized lawn, leaf blowers must be ridiculously inefficient. He can be out there for hours, where it only takes me maybe an hour in the fall to clear up the leaves with a rake.
No matter what, there's always another leaf falling. And blower people are OCD.
Those who have gingko trees can, in general, rake just once – the morning after the leaves all leave the tree at once.
When the screeching and screaming neighbor kids get under my skin I look for the serenity of my leaf blower.
Ha ha ha ha ha!
Another reason to not live in a subdivision, though living out in the desert, seems everyone has their own tiny plane, used @ dawn of course..and the local airport is nearby..so the fight against noisy appliances is a losing one.
Long long ago in a famous Paris park meant for leisurely strolling & sitting on those parisienne benches, I came across a lovely old man raking,raking slowly, and the sound fit so well w. all the other natural sounds…I wonder if god forbid, they've even gone to leaf-blowers there?
Excessive tidiness goes against nature alright, as watching birds does teach us- the twigs i never cleaned up when pruning are perfect perches in the queue for the birdbath…Most every bloom turns to a seed of sorts, hence our big courtyard has been populated all over w. the few things I planted years ago…fancy that, the birds doing the propagating for me…nature's plan is the best. If we can just get out of the way & enjoy it.
The older I get, the more I like quiet. Not saying my folks were right, or anything.
The noise, the idiocy, the utter waste of leaf blowers. They have been our scourge for years now, insinuating themselves into our lives through neighbors who wax poetic in their efficiency. But I wonder. Do they not realize that blowing said leaf into the street is a mere diversion? Do they not understand the aerodynamics of wind, that their work is for naught the very first breeze that comes along? Leaf blowers' existence defies my comprehension because of this. But I guess it follows the same logic of "out of sight, out of mind" and "not in my backyard."
Nah, I think they just really really like doing it. They need something else to do.
I hate the excessive neatness compulsion. When I was a postie riding round on my motorbike I knew several people that would get out on the footpath with a broom and dustpan and sweep up minuscule amounts of stray pebbles, twigs or dust. All our footpaths were dirt anyway so it was even more pointless! One lady began sweeping the concrete gutters and gradually her obsession spread to doing the whole street. Signs of a disturbed mind…
But…sweeping. I'd let her do my street, I think. Also? I like the sound of a push mower.
I still have mine, though the teenagers refused to use it when we had a lawn (Seattle in the 90s). Do I imagine I'll have a lawn, out here in the desert ? The sound is heavenly, gentle whirrr & swishh…
A long time ago a friend shared a poem that he had written, entitled "Idiot Fucking Leaf-blowers". It was pretty good, and definitely risible, but I seem to have mislaid my copy or I would have added it to my comment here.
When we lived in Subdivision Hell the residents were so Uptight about Landscaping and everything being excessively manicured and butchered within an inch of it's life! I am so glad to now live around relaxed people who allow Nature to just do her thing with minimal interference. Of coarse, these are Urban Mini Farms, so very unlike most City Scapes… the best of both Worlds.
You are my people. I have a special kind of hatred for leaf blowers.