Zen Leaf Raking

Yesterday was another lovely day where the sun shone and fluffy clouds parted to reveal a sky of robin egg hue. My current working life leaves me little time for yard work. I adore yard work, but here lies the rub. Should I continue to try to tackle the immensity of an acre lot? Should I hire someone out as I had been doing? After all, in the world of business, I make more in a few hours than I would be paying someone to do the once-yearly fall clean-up.

Yesterday, I variated from my normal path. I decided to start raking the lawn. This is a daunting task, given the fact that we are surrounded by massive and century old oak and maple trees. In the summer, our street appears darkened by the shadows of these giants. Their enormous branches shield all from the blaze of summer sunshine. Now that their greenery is turning brown and crumbling to the Earth, it is no longer possible to tell whether or not we have grass beneath the blanket of leaves.

Raking leaves is actually a freeing experience. It’s a very Zen experience. Pushing the leaves to where you want them (in our city, we push them into the gutter, and a massive vacuuming truck comes by once every two weeks to suck them up) is rather an exercise in futility. Just when you have a pile situated to just the place you want them, a light breeze blows up and a few desperado leaves flutter away to freedom.  Even on placid days where the wind is a dead thing in distant memory, my mound of leaves will sit waist deep in the street. Right on cue, the next night, we will have winds of tornadic proportions and most of the leaves are back on the grass in an even layer, like a brown coconut frosting.

Basically, raking leaves is done less for the leaves and more for the raker. If I held to the belief that this was a “job” that needed “completion” I doubt very much that I would do it at all. While raking, one can enjoy the warmth of sun on face, the smiles of neighbors passing by, the amusement of nearby squirrels, the wonderment of discovering a dazed beetle beneath the blades of grass, and the discovery that your body isn’t as supple as it was just a few short years ago.

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11 Responses

  1. I liked this. I often pitch the idea to friends that any never-ending task has the capacity to be deeply meditative … and in fact I often recommend to my “stuck” writing clients that they do something like rake leaves, or wash the dishes by hand, or fold the laundry … but without impatience; just with a sense of existing with the task. It’s amazing how simple things can create inward expansion.

  2. You have to be very patient to do this. An impatient person (like my daughter) would never be able to do a task just to do it. Of course, I don’t think she’s found her center just yet. Maybe someday.

  3. 1. There is not a single reference to sex in this post. Is something wrong?

    2. I didn’t much understand the purpose of raking leaves. Grass lawns will come back greener and healthier in the Spring if leaves are left to serve as mulch, and vast quantities of raked leaves take up immense amounts of space in landfills.

    3. Now I know that the purpose of raking leaves is to participate in zen meditation.

  4. My honey is on a weeklong trip to Nashville, so I guess no office sex this week, teaspoon. All sex and no introspection makes any smart girl a ho. I’m using this time to clear my mind.

    I believe our city chews the leaves up and turns it into compost for their own use next spring. They’re very methodical about that. They razed a dozen school buildings in the last couple of months and cut up the sod to be used elsewhere.

  5. I don’t get the leaf raking thing either. However, I do get the methodical doing just for the sake of doing. As David mentioned, I actually enjoy doing dishes. I don’t have a dishwasher and haven’t had a working one in maybe twenty years. So I like to wash dishes. It clears the mind. I also like the fact that there is a nice window over the sink, at just my eye level, and while I wash dishes, I look out on the world in front of my nose, so to speak.

  6. Yes, I love hand washing dishes too. I always have, even as a child. It was the one chore they didn’t have to beat me into submission to do. I also enjoy ironing. Kind of weird.

  7. I don’t really like hand-washing dishes, but it’s not too bad. I absolutely despise vacuuming. Hence, my floor is really dirty.

  8. I’m suddenly thinking of Charlie Brown.

  9. By the way, a weather flash. It’s now extremely windy and it’s supposed to snow tonight. So all of the leaves are back where they were yesterday morning. Oh, well…

  10. teaspoon, isn’t it a good thing you don’t have to eat off the floor around your place?

    Pan & Corina: Wanna come wash my dishes? You wash. I’ll dry.

  11. How did I miss this? My goodness. I’m glad I have insomnia.

    This reminds me of something. I’ll email it to you tomorrow.

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