The Zen of raking

In the late 1990s, someone stole my boom box from my office at work.

It’s practically a tradition; I rake leaves on Veterans Day, or shortly thereafter. Usually, some ill wind blows the bulk of the leaves off the huge oak in the back, and the maple tree, not to mention the Japanese maple, in the front.

It’s one of those activities that allow for creative thought. Musing about raking, or the alternatives to it, such as leaf blowers, for instance.

So I don’t mind raking, though my wife is much more thorough than I. She’ll leave one leaf per square meter, and I might leave a dozen. My law of diminishing returns cuts in sooner I guess. I DON’T LIKE stepping into a hidden pile of dog manure, though, since we don’t own a dog.

When I’m out there, I like to play music. I don’t want to get some headphones, though; I do that every day at work. I want to hear music blasting out of my boom box. OK, not blasting; I’m too socially appropriate to have music blaring outside at 10 a.m.

Not that I should have worried. The leaf blower that someone turned on ten houses away totally made my Aaron Copland CD inaudible.

I was on Facebook dissing leaf blowers when someone defended them as “fun.” I think my antipathy towards the machine is one part pollution aversion (it uses gas or electricity and it’s LOUD), but one part irritation about how people use them, blowing leaves into the street so that they become the responsibility of the municipality. I see that a LOT, and it really bugs me.

I think I’ll crank up my boom box all the way to five; well, maybe four and a half. I said to my wife that I was feeling like having a hamburger, a reference to the use of Hoe-Down from Rodeo by Copland as the theme for the long-running beef campaign; here is one example, and here’s another.

For some reason, the Daughter, who’s a great help with raking, asked me if I had ever been robbed. I was reminded that in the late 1990s, someone stole my boom box, identical to the one I was playing, from my office at work; I had purchased one for myself and one for Carol back in 1995. The thief was eventually caught because he was purloining a number of items from the building over time.

The really interesting thing was I had to testify before a grand jury to indicate that, no, I had not had given the defendant permission to “borrow” my boom box, and indeed did not know the defendant. Much to my surprise, a few months later, I received restitution for very nearly the full value of my loss from some court-related entity.