In Philadelphia, where I make my home (not literally, of course—it was built years ago, long before my wife and I moved in), the extended globally warmed summer weather has finally given up, and Fall has settled in for good. At least it has as of this writing. The starlings out front have begun flying south, and are no longer pooping on my car roof. The apple harvest is nearing the end, evidenced by the fact that the commercial farms just outside the city are closing up shop. And leaves are falling to the ground, tumbling like tiny stockbrockers jumping from their skycrapers to “a better place”.
Which can only mean one thing—time to rake. I never really minded raking as a kid, but maybe that’s because I had good teachers. My parents raised me to be a good raker; not to rush it, to respect the yard, to let the leaves speak to me and tell me which piles they wanted to be in. And of course, I enjoyed the jumping that would later ensue and undo all my good work.
But kids today have too many other things they’d rather be doing. Between the internet, cell phones, shopping, handheld video games, ipods, digital photography, concerts and activities, kids today don’t just kill time, they murder it. As a result, raking the leaves is no longer an outdoor chore to linger over—it’s a chore to plow through as quickly as possible so you can get back online to update your myspace page (by the way, check ours at at myspace.com/quirkbooks). And so, for the benefit of kids today, here’s how to rake like a pro.
1. Keep it straight.
Veteran rakers have a secret—they rake in straight lines from one end of the lawn (we’ll call it the “bottom”) to the other (the “top”) so it’s clear what section of the yard they’ve just finished. Random raking can lead to confusion, or even worse, more time spent doing something you don’t want to be doing.
2. Pile, pile, pile.
We say that three times not just because it’s catchy, but because instead of making one pile, you should rake your leaves in to many medium-sized to small piles instead. If a wind kicks up, a big pile is more likely to be blown across the lawn.
3. Bag with your hands AND feet.
Get a large plastic garbage bag and lay it on the ground right near your first pile. Stick your feet in the bag’s opening and slide them apart to open the bag wide. Now, with one hand, pick up the top edge of the bag, forming a triangle. With your free hands, start scooping those leaves into that bag.
4. Take your time.
We know you’d rather be doing something else, but don’t rush it—if you do, you’re more likely to drop your leaves and have to re-rake. Take your time to get each handful in the bag and it will all be over sooner than if you rush the process and make mistakes.
That’s all for now—I’ve got to make like a tree (I’ve got my myspace page to update).
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