Leaf Blowers. Don’t Suck.
I have spent some time contemplating the merits of leaf blowers this past week. And following recent disconnected observations of leaf-blowing operatives, Ernest Hemingway and a passage from Ecclesiastes, I’m ready to buy my own. A daily ritual of blowing the same dry particles around the same space could be a therapeutic task.
Observation 1: Sat on a very slow-moving train near Dijon. Look left and see the maddest character walking through a very large dry field waving a red leaf blower. I shake my head as I watch this numbskull blow leaves and dust up into the air. Take a step and blow largely the same stuff up in the air again. What on earth is he doing? Very odd, but thought nothing more of it.
Observation 2: Sat on a sun lounger by a pool, around 9 am. Reading Hemingway’s ‘The Sun Also Rises’. Peace and tranquillity were disrupted by a man and his battery-powered leaf blower in the little fenced cafe area next to the pool. This place is labelled a ‘spa’. Resist telling him to shut the wot-not up.
Watch him for a while. It’s a careful and methodical operation. The pine needles and other particles are carefully shepherded into corners and then he moves to another area. No picking up – he’s tidying and arranging, so he knows where it is. It’s not an attempt to remove stuff, just get some order ready for when he does it all over again.
Then the penny drops. I flick back to the front of the book to re-read the second epigraph:
One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth for ever. The sun also ariseth, and the sun goeth down, and hasteth to his place where he arose. The wind goeth toward the south, and turneth about unto the north; it whirleth about continually, and the wind returneth again according to his circuits. All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea is not full: unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again. (Ecclesiastes 1:4-8)
Every day I watched this same man do the same thing with largely the same stuff and it gave me hope. The Sun Also Rises is about seeking contentment in activities that cannot provide it, the amount the characters eat and drink is mind-boggling. And it suggests we need something more enduring. A reminder that the leaves need reordering tomorrow, just as sure as the sun will rise is somehow satisfying once you separate it from being a humdrum task.
Now I could use a broom. And I have thought about this. A broom is quiet, cheap and ubiquitous. In many ways, it’s a superior piece of equipment. But there is a lack of control with the leaf blower that is more interesting in light of this little realisation. Use a broom to get the job done. Use the blower to consider the eternal survival of nature.
A quick thought on sucking. I know there are varieties that suck as well as blow. But when you empty the bag you just move your mess somewhere you can’t see it. Keeping your leaves where you can see them is better. You can always go out for a walk to get away from it.
I’m getting to the end now. Wondering how to finish this article. Slightly wondering if it’s even worth finishing. But like a sketch something crops up unexpectedly: Maybe the chap in the field just had it right for him. Perhaps he’s got a different angle, he’s happy just to go out in the open and merrily blow his stuff up in the air and see what happens. I’m going to have a go at keeping my leaves tidy in my small courtyard. But I have got a feeling I’ll get bored. That I am more of an open-space kinda blower. So if you see a numbskull with a yellow leaf blower merrily taking his dust for a walk on Southsea Common, don’t disturb me. It might look like madness but I’ll be trying to find some order.
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All the best
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