It’s Thursday morning, my free morning where I can stay home and write, do yoga, dishes, laundry, water the yard and sit outside to read and enjoy the peace and quiet. It’s mid morning, nice and warm outside, so I pick a nice spot under a tree, move my lawn chair, spread out the LA Times and go inside to get a bowl of left-over soup from Farmer and the Cook. I have my worries but I brush them aside and think to myself “How lucky I am to live in a war-free zone, with electricity, running water, a flush toilet, and something good to eat.” Birds are singing, squirrels are chattering, a perfect day in paradise. Almost.
I go back outside with my bowl of soup. I sit down. Oh no! Not again! What’s that noise? My peace and quiet is shattered. It’s the ubiquitous leaf blowers. They’re back for another round. I live in a beautiful neighborhood but one never knows when the leaf blowers will start up as most of my neighbors use gardening services. Plus the nearby Presbyterian church parking lot seems to get a good vacuuming about twice a week. Sometimes I hear them on Saturday nights, as I watch the pink moment or the full moon rise. They start up when my students are in Savasana (relaxation pose). No moment is sacred to the leaf blowers.
I’ve almost given up. It’s been many years since my last tirade on this bizarre modern-day invention. Instead of marching up to the gardeners, as I once used to do, now I vent to the cosmos.
It’s two days later… I was about to sit in my yard and eat lunch. The neighbor’s gardening service drove up. I quickly went inside. As I type this the gardener across the street has been sending gusts of dirt and fumes into my front yard and the rest of the neighborhood for about twenty-minutes. I thought we banned this blight on the planet from our residential neighborhoods when I was on the city council years ago!
It does little good to complain to the City or police because it’s only a matter of time before the racket starts up again. Like most people I hesitate to march up to my neighbor’s front door and demand they hand their gardeners a good old-fashioned rake and broom. My own gardener keeps my sidewalks swept and leaves raked into areas where they can nourish the soil and plants very nicely with these time-honored tools.
I think my neighborhood must be some sort of leaf-blower vortex. Surely if it’s like this everywhere the people would insist that the City do something! My neighbor across the street, with his great big yard, has the gardening service come almost every day, and they consider it their sacred obligation to use the leaf-blower every time they come. Sometimes I suspect they are just going through the motions, walking back and forth blasting a few innocuous leaves.
The roar of the leaf blower has gotten louder since I started this essay and as I look out my window it appears another man has joined the chorus and I see more whirls of dirt and leaves swirling around. It’s not the fault of the gardeners–I feel sorry for the gardeners who are exposed to the noise and pollution of these misguided tools. I want to shout, “For heaven’s sake! It’s the great outdoors! It’s not the living room floor! It’s supposed to be dirty. The leaves are nutrients for the trees! Stop those leaf blowers! Stop putting those precious leaves in the trash! Just STOP!”
Update, May 2, 2008 Posted by makeojaiquieter.com
Happy May! My dear neigbors on all four sides (eight properties all together) are celebrating the first two days in May by having an ongoing all-day leaf blower party. It started yesterday morning and they seem to have it timed so that any blessed moment of silence lasts no more than a few minutes. From a distance I can see clouds of dust and a few innocent leaves whirling through the air. The dust is blowing over the fence into my yard and the hispanic worker, wearing a kerchief over his mouth and nostrills, is obviously just going through the motions. He is stirring up far more dirt than leaves and looks like he’s dancing with the long hose of the leaf blower as he run to and fro chasing leaves that I’m sure would much prefer to quietly return to Mother Earth…