You haven’t lived until you’ve seen the fall colors in New York. And listened to the leaf blowers. You’ll find leaves and leaf blowers everywhere. They go hand in hand like yin and yang, left and right, Jekyll and Hyde, the leaf blowers being Mr. Hyde, of course.
Sure, I complain a lot, but that’s what makes me a New Yorker. I wouldn’t be true to myself otherwise. But there’s more to it than that, because this attitude toward leaves and leaf blowers isn’t just about me. It reflects a fundamental law (some would say “flaw”) of the universe. Which (f)law is that?
There’s always something. Rarely in life do you get green lights all the way down Broadway. I don’t know if that’s possible. If it is, it’s about as likely as the proverbial elephant hanging by a daisy off a cliff. Theoretical physics may allow it, but it’s in the ballpark of my winning Mega Millions. And try explaining that to the cop who’s about to write you a ticket. Personally, I think it’s just the postmodern version of angels dancing on the head of a pin.
Autumn leaves are beautiful, especially from maple, elm, and hickory trees. They are so stunning, in fact, that they can make stoic New Yorkers and busloads of gawking tourists stop and take notice. Can you imagine that: something so incredible that it shakes people out of the narrow confines of “Me World”? Autumn leaves just might prove the existence of absolute beauty and truth. Unlike Mega Millions, however, you have to be present to win. That is, you need some degree of awareness or at least the ability to look up from your cellphone to participate.
Divine providence may have to intervene here, since the only way some people will look up from their phones is if they drop them. I saw a guy do that once in a urinal at the airport, but that’s another story.
Leaf blowers also serve a larger purpose. They prove the existence of chaos, entropy, the gradual winding down of the universe like an old rubber band. I’m not sure that we really need proof of that, though. After all, star systems aren’t the only things winding down.
But leaf blowers go beyond natural law by introducing human will. We are causing the degradation intentionally. We have torn the original fabric of the universe by using leaf blowers, which do little more than move piles of leaves from one location to another with grinding, whirring, and explosive noise comparable to a heavy metal concert.
I’ve complained about leaf blowing many times, especially when it starts at 6:00 am. One leaf blower took the time to explain to me that he was doing us all a service, because people can slip on leaves and injure themselves. I conceded his point but then told him that rakes did the job for centuries at a fraction of the cost and noise. He looked at me, pulled his hoodie down over his head, and went back to whirring and blowing. Since then, I have decided not to engage leaf blowers anymore. It’s the same policy of non-engagement I use on the subway. So far, so good.
There are those among us who say that we need leaf blowers, because they help us appreciate autumn leaves even more, which is like saying we need death to appreciate life. I guess there’s wisdom in that. It’s one of the explanations for evil in the world. I’ve always had a problem with that line of reasoning, though. Not only does it seem like a cop-out, but in this case the analogy is wrong. Leaf blowing is not death. It’s torture. It doesn’t do anything but irritate us to the point of desperation. I put it in the same category as backup beeps, which, as we all know, are diabolical.
Autumn leaves help us rest peacefully with nature, aging, and loss, especially in love. Leaf blowers awaken us rudely to the demands of work and ordinary life. And, as usual, are not lawyers responsible? It’s a conspiracy.
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