Jim Siergey: The Rake’s Progress

November 7th, 2018

The time had come for me to partake in my least favorite of the seasonal chores—The Raking of the Leaves.

Actually, the actual raking part is not so bad. It’s the stooping, gathering and disposal of the raked leaves that is the killer. In the city, one had to stoop, gather and fill large plastic “Lawn & Leaf” bags with the amassed tree droppings, bundle them up and drag them off to the alley where garbage trucks would haul them away.

Out here in the suburbs there are no alleys and the bagging of leaves is not allowed. The rule here is to line them up like a long leafy worm on your parkway next to the curb (NOT in the street!) to await the arrival of some sort of town truck that will suck up this trail of leaves like a giant vacuum cleaner.

I have yet to see this machine but this is the story I have been told.

So, instead of bagging and dragging, I rake up piles from which I fill a wheelbarrow that I trek back and forth from my back yard (where all the leaves have gathered) to dump and arrange on the front parkway.

After a few hours of this tediousness one can get rather weary.

leaf poetryMr. Crumb said it so well…


Whenever I tire of raking I flash back to a memory from my youth where I was up in northern Wisconsin visiting my grandfather. His property, which was vast, had a lot of trees and one autumn day I was helping him rake up leaves.

After some hours I had reached a point where I was ready to pack it in. But then I looked around and saw my grandfather, who was close to 90 years of age, raking away looking as fresh and vital as I should have looked.

I couldn’t let my grandfather think I was the weak excuse for a man that I was so I raked on. Decades later he’s still there, silently pushing me onward.

Griping aside, there’s something poetic about being outside on a nice, crisp autumn day where throughout the neighborhood the air is filled with the skritching and scraping sounds of rakes against the leaves upon the lawn.

At least, once upon a time there was.

Now, the only sounds one hears is that of machinery. Everyone is out using their mowers and mulchers and leaf blowers. Instead of communing with nature I feel like I’m on the runway at O’Hare Field.

No longer are there the pastoral sounds of swooshing rakes, scraping snow shovels or push mowers going clickety-clack. Technology has taken over.

Me, I’m still trying to hold out the best I can. If it was good enough for my grandfather, it’s good enough for me.

A’course, if they come up with a noiseless drone that will mow my lawn, rake my leaves and shovel my snow (preferably during the night like the shoemaker’s elves) I will be the first in line with credit card in hand waiting for Ace Hardware’s doors to open.

Sorry, Gramps. I hope you understand.


Editor’s note: Jim’s last post for The Third City was Thank You, Spam


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