Back in November, when my husband was still home and we were on Thanksgiving break, all our neighbors made piles of leaves and sticks. They raked them to the curb and the village trucks came around and picked them up. We raked some of our leaves -- the ones in the front yard, mainly. But we were on break, so we left some of the leaves in the backyard. Okay, truthfully, most of the leaves in the backyard.
Then The Airborne (as my father calls him) went to Afghanistan. It snowed. The snow never melted. Until now.
Last week, the neighbors all raked up their remaining leaves, the new sticks, and whatever else was in their yards. They made piles of sticks. I was scrambling to keep up with my work and told myself I was too tired and it was too cold to do my own yard. I kept putting it off. But now I am on spring break. I fear I may have missed the village trucks, but I'm not sure. I saw a few people still raking when I walked the dogs this afternoon.
It's about 73 degrees. I forgot what it feels like to sweat in the sun. I forgot that piles of leaves are wet on their undersides and that when you rake them, the smell of cool, moist dirt wafts up at you. Under the leaves, little white-green shoots are coming up out of the soil, which is the color of wet coffeegrounds.
I can't believe we left so many leaves. I've been raking them and pulling up these dead stalks that The Airborne hates. For two hours I have been doing this, and my yard now has piles of things but doesn't look that much better. At least it smells of spring out there now. I have no idea what to do with the piles if the village doesn't come to get them. I don't live in the country, so I can't just burn them.
All I can think about is how I'm so glad I'm not in Oklahoma because a yard like mine would be crawling with copperheads.
I know I ought to go back out there and work some more, but I'm feeling a little defeated. I'm working on the terrible script and the metal novel that is the love of my life but not going so well. I want to write them. I miss living in the country, where Outside takes care of itself.
The dogs were tied to the deck. They rolled over and slept in the shade and are now covered with tiny pieces of leaves. My hands have the beginnings of blisters. My piece of New York is out from under winter and trying to breathe.