When you live in an oak forest one thing that you can count on is that when shadows lengthen leaves fall and must  be raked up. It is herculean labor, I kid you not. We moved to our place in Arkansas from Montana where the trees are pines that drop a thimble full of needles compared to the ankle-deep blanket of leaf the oak trees shed. This begins in September and continues with some species until May. On our place tens of thousands fall, each of which has to be gathered up. There are people who add to their labor by neatly bagging them for the trash people to pick up. This is stoop labor, my friends, and backs in my household are not getting any younger.  In clear violation of policy (we live in a private community where policies rather than laws obtain), we drag them on a tarp to the commons area behind our place. What rich soil will be generated in the years to come I tell people. Our son and his wonderful wife, who is just beginning a career in landscaping in Austin, came for Thanksgiving and gave us a hand in leaf raking. By that I mean they did the lion’s share of ridding us of the vast quantity of leaves that had fallen since the last time my wife and I cleared the land of them. More are to fall. I thought of them as I soaked weary muscles in a hot tub with bath salts. Yet I’m thankful I still have the strength to do this kind of work. I’ll think back on this time when I don’t.

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