Sunday, December 01, 2013

A Tolerable Planet

Mars and I have been busy counting crows, smashing pumpkins, and raking leaves.  It is how we folks in residential New England commune with nature this time of year.
The glossy black birds pass through in annually during late October/early November – stopping temporarily by the score and more in the front of our property.  They are, so I have read, migrating from the even colder northern realms a little ways southward to the Mid-Atlantic States for the winter.  Some will actually spend the cold season with us – well not literally “with us” but at least in the general neighborhood.  This week they are gobbling up many of the little acorns that drop into our yard from the phalanx of oaks that front our property.  There is a surfeit of the cup-shaped tree fruit this autumn because the squirrel population in our neighborhood is severely depleted as compared to previous annums. 
 Which is why we are smashing pumpkins – or at least why I am decimating the large orange-yellow gourds in a single massive violent ceremony rather than plopping them into the compost bin one-by-one throughout the month of October as we have done in the past. 
In previous years the shelf life of a pumpkin in our front yard in years past was pretty short – sometimes days, even hours, instead of weeks.  Within minutes of Mars and me placing them in their traditional settings – 3 on the front steps, 3 around the lamp post, 1 on either side of the garage door, and 1 each in the 2 front perennial beds – at least two of them would be under siege from tiny tree-rodent teeth gnawing their way into the base of the fruit, from which orthodontia’s owner would extract pumpkin entrails and seeds for future (and present) use. The gourd would then be left to collapse under its own weight and thereafter be immediately consigned to the compost bin.
This year the lonely duo of tree squirrels that frequent our property have laid not a single tooth on any of our nine pumpkins.  Thus, after at least one month of neglect, the hard-skinned fruits have taken it upon themselves to soften up and crumple under their own weight – the first time the entire entourage of all-natural fall decorations has survived in tact (albeit limply) through both Halloween and Thanksgiving. 
Hence the continuous parade of me perp-walking the unfortunate gourds to the compost bin and striking them repeatedly with my sharp ended bulb-digger – instead of, as in prior times, dropping them from the full extent of my six-foot five height and letting gravity and the pumpkins total lack of infrastructure splatter them into the organic mix.
The raking was considerably less savage.  This past week was the second go-around of our town’s curbside pickup of raked leaves, as a byproduct of which they create free compost for all its citizens.  Mars and I had previously donated 13,245,865 leaves (give or take), of which the municipality sucked up all but 115.  I ground up those outliers along with several others that our oaks had added with my mulching mower rationalizing that the benefit to the lawn from its all-natural feeding would just barely offset the small environmental footprint that I was creating.
This Monday my mower and I went out to chop up the additional ones that had found their way into our premises since my first Toro-go-round and discovered that the quantity was greater than I anticipated and easier to rake than I expected. 
Henry David Thoreau once said, “What's the use of a fine house if you haven't got a tolerable planet to put it on?”
So, I avoided polluting the atmosphere and rounded them up by hand for the town’s larger internal combustion engines to return them to nature – corralling a few reminders of where we really are in the process.

Desiccated leaves
Conceal Taco Bell wrappers.
Hey! It’s the suburbs.

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