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While sipping a hot cup of Earl Grey tea, I lament the voluminous uproar of leaf blowers clearing the sidewalks and lawn in the small community in which I live. I, for one, would love the opportunity to walk through the leaves, listening to their crunch, collecting those that speak to me of peace, passion, and the spirit of days gone by. The trees have been covered in the brilliant colors that October in Virginia brings. Red Maples, especially, have been aglow in brilliant scarlet, orange, and yellow. 

The peak of this autumn magic is near.  Soon we’ll be left with the dark silhouettes of naked trees against the steel grey of winter skies, until the return of spring when the sun brings more light and the land begins to warm. 

Fall has always been my favorite season.  As a child I loved diving into the piles of leaves my father raked up and then burned at the curb in front of our house. There were no leaf blowers or huge plastic sacks in which to place the leaves to be trucked away to the dump.

 The whisper of rakes, rather than today’s clamor of blowers, brought peace to my world, along with the pungent smell of leaves burning near where they had fallen.  I knew that snow would soon be coming to cover the land with white fluff.  I would build snowmen with carrot noses. Ice on local ponds would thicken quickly in the cold, making for hours of skating, as I envisioned myself to be an olympic ice dancer.  

In Northern Vermont, years later when I had children of my own, we spent September gathering falls from our orchard of five old apple trees. We piled their fruit into the cider press, squeezing them to make luscious apple cider which we sold to neighbors. We’d put a stash of our own in the freezer to thaw later, drinking it heated with a stick of cinnamon and a slice of orange on frigid winter days.

I raked the leaves from our giant maple tree into a huge pile for Mark and Lisa, who both loved hiding in them with their friends, just as I had when I was small.  We never burned the leaves.  We simply let them rot on the ground under the frequent Halloween snow that would remain on the ground until late March or April. 

This is my seventy-seventh year on our planet. As the noisy squadron of men with their gas consuming devises head to another property to remove more leaves, I mourn the quiet of the “old days.”  I’m beginning to understand my own parent’s displeasure with the changes and the speed of life that is always increasing.  

My own days bring memories of the way things used to be.  But where would we be today without computers, cell phones, the tiny bits of plastic found in the melting ice at the South Pole, or the Roomba I’ve been thinking of buying?  

Way back, in Vermont, besides making apple cider, I raised sheep for their wool, had a vegetable garden that was about an acre in size, and a flock of laying hens. I baked bread in the old, iron wood stove that heated my kitchen in winter, filling my home with the welcome aroma of life well lived.

As I grow older it takes me longer to do the simplest of chores like folding laundry, or vacuuming the floors in my home. It is ironic that I  consider the convenience of robotic gadgets to give me more time to sit, read a good book, write in my journal, take a nice long walk, or simply stare into space. 

I do miss those days. I am still a hippy at heart. But I can no longer do the work that sustained me back then. Instead I fuss over buying a small disk-like gadget that will do the vacuuming for me, and betray the person I still think I am.

There is much about aging that I do love. I can say what I want, look beauty in the face and stick my tongue out at her, and pretend that I’m retired with all the time in the world to do whatever I want. But like the leaves, I know that I too will fall to the ground, becoming something else, in the not too distant future.    

In the meantime, I’ll text my grandkids to ask how to do some tricky things on my computer, take a nap when I feel lazy, and try to figure out why I need a Roomba.


Wishing You and Yours a Very Happy Thanksgiving!


  1. Oh how I relate! I woke up this morning to just such a leaf blower and whatever peace I found in my dreams quickly evaporated. I remember thinking how dull and boring my parents home became as they aged. The last of 5 it was heavy and drab to me. But now I relish the quiet. You write beautifully Joan and your reminiscence call up so many memories of my own. (It has been a beautiful Fall!)

    • Thank you so much, Dorothy. I so appreciate your words. Yes, it has been a gorgeous fall here and I’m hoping for an uncomplicated winter. But, I’ll take what we get. We don’t get to choose the weather!

  2. Fall is my favorite season too because our part of Florida has cooled down and we don’t need the constant A/C blowing. Yes, I do prefer the whisper of rakes to the clamor of blowers – and lemon and honey in my tea. (My Roomba is named Cliff – ha!)

    Thank you for this calm reflection. Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

    • Joan Rough says:

      Thanks, Marian. I hope you all have a wonderful holiday, too!

      I love honey and lemon in my tea, too, but Bill has lost his Roomba skills! I hope your Roomba, Cliff, never gives out!!

  3. It’s stick season here in British Columbia and we’re waiting for snow. The splendour of fall is so fleeting. Gerry has been my Roomba since we retired. When I knew I was going to have surgery I hired a housekeeper again (We had someone in to clean for us when we were still working) and I’ve decided I’m going to keep her. Life’s too short to do housework when someone younger and faster can do a better job than I can.

  4. Joan Rough says:

    Linda, Thanks for stopping by. I think you have made a wise decision about keeping your housekeeper. And your write, Life is just too short to do housework. I don’t think a Roomba is worth the expense. And according to several friends they are technically complicated. One friend has to get her husband to set it up so she can run it. I don’t need anything like that.

    I hope you feeling much better and that your recovery is going along smoothly.