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Leaf Blowing or Raking: A Metaphor for Our Times

I was walking down a country road by my house this morning. It was a beautiful walk as evidenced by the photo I took that is posted here. We live on the east side of the Cascade Mountains, a few miles away from the base of the Three Sisters Mountains and Mt. Bachelor ski area. Maybe five to ten cars an hour travel down our street. So, walks are peaceful.

About a mile from our place is a home that is occupied by the ranch hand family that work the hay fields next to their place. They are folks who always wave and smile when we see each other. Today, the patriarch of the family was out front, blowing leaves off his lawn. It is early winter here, so the leaves were brown and dry. He moved them south to north across his yard and then east until they hit the road in front of the property. His mission was accomplished. The leaves were no longer on his property. I wondered where the leaves would blow next. Probably across the street to that neighbor’s place, as prevailing winds would have kept them from blowing back in the ranch hand family’s yard.

That is when it dawned on me. This is lunacy. Leaf blowers are lunacy and reflect some of what ails us culturally. And it’s not just on my remote road that the wisdom of leaf blowers should be checked. My mother-in-law lives in Southern California’s Orange County. Homes there are more tightly packed together than in my hometown in Central Oregon. When we visit her, it is not uncommon to hear leaf blowers going at 7:00 am. When I was walking this morning, I remember watching leaves get blown into gutters in Southern California.

Here are what leaf blowers do:

  1. Make a lot of noise

  2. Pollute the air

  3. Consume energy

  4. Move leaves and scatter leaves to another location

Here are what rakes do:

  1. Collect things without making much noise

  2. Operate without exhaust

  3. Provide some exercise

  4. Move leaves to a specific spot where they are easy to pick up

The leaf blower is a metaphor for how we are treating each other. Or maybe better said, the leaf blowing operator with the leaf blower machine is the metaphor. After my walk this morning, I think we should consider rakes and raking instead.

Leaf blowing has some lunacy to it. Raking has regard: for oneself, one’s neighbors, and one’s planet.