Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Leaf Piles: Fall, FC Style

I've got a couple of posts about food ready- one about pancakes and diners and one about an Italian food face-off, but decadent food is for the weekend. You can’t think about the weekend on Tuesday morning. I’ll talk about the other obvious thing in life: the weather.

When I drive around Greenwich and Stamford in the fall and see the leaf piles start to gather, I think, This is what it's like to live in a place with money.

When I first came up here from Va., all the evidence of money was astonishing: BMWs, Mercedes, huge houses, designer clothes. I’m used to all of that now, but every fall the leaf thing reminds me that I live in a wealthy, high-powered area. Where I'm from, you bag your own leaves. The town will take them away, but you have to put the leaves in the bags first, just like you do with the rest of your trash.

The first fall I lived up here, I watched the piles build. I wasn't sure why people were putting their leaves in the road. Were they hoping the leaves would just rot there? Were they going to bag them up later? Then, one day, a town truck showed up and took away all the leaves. That seemed so luxurious to me.

In the FC, the leaf piles say, "Here are my leaves. I am too busy to bag them myself. You do it." I'm not saying that's bad. I myself am thankful that Stamford takes care of my leaves; I’m allergic to grasses, trees, pollen, and mold. I’m not eager to bag my own leaves and breath in all that dust and dirt. Other people have horrendous commutes and don’t want to do yard work at 8 at night. I think most of us are glad that our taxes pay for leaf removal.

This is New England. Leaves are in the way. I get it. People want their property to look grassy, not mucky with wet, rotted leaves. It’s easier for a town truck to collect and dispose of the leaves, and it’s probably more environmentally responsible.

I don’t begrudge us our leaf removal, but even after 10 years up here, I can’t shake my impression that the magical way the leaves go away is part of living in an area where so many people are available to do things for you: clean your house, massage you, take care of your kids, tutor your kids, wash your dog, walk your dog, make your food, clean your car. I suppose I’d seen that lifestyle on TV, but I’d never seen it in person.

The leaves were one of the first examples I saw of that when I moved up here. Fall is great for so many reasons- the smell, the chill, the football- but it also reminds me of when I first came up here and had to get used to everything.

11 comments:

Ricks said...

They had similar leaf pick ups in Delaware, where I grew up, and it was definitely not near as wealthy as Stamford. I'm not sure those are connected, but it sure is nice to skip the bagging step!

Imnotbob said...

A little history might help: we dodn't use to have leaf pick-up. Instead, several times each autumn, we'd rake up big piles, gather them in a tarp, and haul them to the street. Then we'd burn them...legally. Everyone was careful, and throughout childhood I never heard of any fire spreading to cause harm. It was not fire safety that ended the practice, but rather the environmental movement. It seems that rich aroma that permeated every neighborhood, the very essence of fall to many of us, was not a good thing to be breathing. So, the practice was outlawed, to make room in the ozone layer for SUV's. The booby prize was curbside leaf pickup.

chachmaster said...

another thought with leaves is to (at least for the first couple of fall weekends) use your lawn mower to mulch them onto your yard.

the shredded leaves release nitrogen into the grass at a key time of the year, providing you with free fertilizer.

not only is this more environmentally sound than buying commercial fertilizers that run off into the sewer (and then the Sound) but its FREE. plus it kills two birds with one stone by clearing your yard at the same time.

J from CT said...

Between the era of burning the leaves and the leaving-them-in-a-pile-by-the-curb policy that's currently in place, I remember that at one point we had to bag them and put them at the curb (plastic lawn & leaf bags were OK), then we had to use some biodegradable paper bags provided by the city and we had to drop them off at a location either at Magee Ave. or on Scofieldtown Rd, then the biodegradable bags were OK to leave by the curb, then they did away with the bags altogether.

If you have woods by your house, just dump 'em there. Otherwise, I'm all for going back to the burn!!!

Anonymous said...

I agree on the chopping up of the leaves, however peple with OAK trees may find that much harder.

Dora said...

I remember when I first moved to Stamford, you had to bag your own leaves using large paper bags. Then they did away with that; now the leaves are mostly blown away by the time the trucks come at the end of season and I usually have a few close calls with running down some kid because they leaves are blocking my line of vision. Ah, the joys of suburbia...

Julie said...

I have never seen the town leaf pick up before! Not where I grew up at least - now I am looking forward to it :)

I am also looking forward to pancake posts - YUM!

Irenesbooks said...

Oh those good old days when you could burn the leaves!

My father would bake potatoes in them, they had a lovely smoky taste.

Always Home and Uncool said...

Having grown up in the woods of N. Stamford, my dad and I never understood leaf pickup. We just raked, blew and hauled everything into big piles in the woods, then come spring we'd dig through the piles for worms to go fishing.

Anonymous said...

And I complain that they come to pick up too late in the season! Geez - lol

Actually, the leaf piles are dangerous. Be careful - kids like to sit in them - do not drive through the leaves! I almost killed a boy - told his father, and he was like, whatever!

Anonymous said...

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