I was taking care of Little Abbey when I happened to glance out of the front window and see the retired man from across the street walking up our drive. I have stopped a few times and talked with him when I have seen him in his yard, which is quite often. I bet the man spends at least ten to fifteen hours a week out in his lawn and it shows. It is immaculate. But the conversation is always just small neighborly talk and he doesn't even know my name even though I have remembered his using my Dale Carnegie techniques.
So when he made it up to the door, I opened it up and invited him in out of the cold. Little Abbey was playing in her saucer and that was the first time he had ever seen her so we did a couple minutes of chitchat about her. Still standing inside the door, I finally let the conversation die out and an uncomfortable silence filter in as I waited for him to get to his point. I knew there had to be a reason for the unexpected visit.
"Well" he said, "we and a few other people had a guy from Birmingham come up this year and raked our leaves with a power rake and trimmed the grass down for a very reasonable rate. I thought I would let you know in case you were interested in hiring someone and his number is in the phonebook."
Not sure what to say, I just said nothing. I had mulched the leaves in the front lawn with my mower just the previous weekend because they had just finally all fallen off the oak tree. The problem had been that it had rained several inches on them before I had them mulched which matted them down to the ground causing the mulching process to not be as affective as it was in the backyard which I had done a month earlier. But it had been effective enough because you could at least see 90% of the grass in the lawn while the rest was covered with large pieces of leaf litter.
Jim the neighbor started up again on his own telling me of how he lost 50% of his grass one year when he didn't get it raked well enough and went into the dynamics of how water runs underneath the leaves and kills the grass. I have never raked a leaf in my life and have the grass has always come back but I bit my tongue and kept this bit of information to myself as I listened. Finally he asked if I wanted the Birmingham power raker guy's name.
I told Jim that I have always just mulched my leaves but because we had a wet spell before I got to the front yard this year it didn't do as good of a job. I thought this would give him the hint that I wasn't interested but he started in again saying that he used to mulch too but it got to where his mower couldn't push through the thatch. Again I have mulched since I have lived in this house and have never had a problem so I just let him run through his speal. Finally he wound down and I said that I might yet run over it again with the mulcher if the weather stays decent knowing full well that it was supposed to snow later on that night and get freezing cold. (It did both.) He bid me a goodnight and walked across the street to his house.
I don't know why he is concerned since my leaves can't blow over to his lawn as my house acts as a giant wind block. My leaves always blow (if they move at all) over on my neighbor's lawn to the east. That house has been for sale since I bought my place and the renting tenants never stay long enough to complain or just kindly rake them up for me and dispose of them. No, Jim's lawn is immaculate and I assume that he is embarrassed to have my lawn with semi mulched leaf litter across the street from him. He just doesn't understand that not everyone can (or wants to) spend fifteen hours a week tending to their lawn with chemicals, water, mowers, rakes, spreaders, dethatchers, rollers and a multitude of other paraphernalia.
When my wife came home an hour later I relayed the story to her and god bless her, she replied that we could probably rake it on Saturday. "Heck no!" I replied. "Them leaves are staying put for the rest of the year now. If he was so brazen to give me the thinly veiled hint that my lawn isn't up to snuff, well then he is just going to have to suffer looking at it until spring. There is no law saying I have to rake my leaves. This is war… unless he wants to rake my leaves for me and in which case he can go right ahead." I'm not a betting man but I'm willing to wager that my grass will come up in full force next spring as it always has… unfortunately.