Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Yes, it’s that time of year. The fact that the first of the maples in the rotation has already shed most of its leaves, coupled with some unsubtle muttering about “that mess out front” by Mrs. R, convinced Ol’ Robbo that today would be a good day to get cracking on this annual ritual.

I’m trying a progressive approach this year: The line of maples out front always drop their load from northwest to southeast, so I’m just going to follow along. Today I focused on the first, as I say, and worked just a bit under the next in line, which has only shed about 40% or so. I reckon it usually takes me four to five weekends to finally clear away everything, the back end always being determined by the sole oak in the line, which can take most of the wintah to finally let go its last leaves.

Multiple droning noises around the neighborhood suggested others had the same idea as me.

It’s funny: As I’ve probably mentioned here before, when I was a yoot we had no “leaf” season. In my part of Texas, the majority of the deciduous trees were either scrub oak or mesquite. The former has a leaf about the size of your thumb, and while the latter’s is longer, it’s also very thin. No raking or pick-up necessary.

Thus, I never knew what any of this was until I went away to college at the People’s Glorious Soviet of Middletown, CT. There I was introduced to industrial-grade leaf-blowers and vacuum hoses. I was perpetually tired my first semester since I was finally being subjected to a level of academic rigor unknown in my high school, and the drone of the grounds crew working away with them in the background proved to be quite the soporific as I struggled to keep my eyes open in class, especially on sunny, still October afternoons. To this day, hearing them off in the distance can still make me feel very sleepy, indeed.

On another front, I cut back the peonies, which are mostly brown now. It’s funny, but I always get a whiff of something awfully like tobacco when I do this. I don’t know if this is just a function of large, dried leaves, or if there’s a closer connection, but there it is.

Finally, I gave in and took down the hummingbird feeder for the year. If any of the little blighters are still around, the butterfly bushes are still blooming in the garden.