Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Leaf Lady

I think I know how the squirrels and the woodpeckers must feel when they have laid in a good supply of acorns.

The backyard leaf pile has reached a satisfying height. The top layer, a bright cascade of colorful confetti, comes from two flowering cherry trees across the street. I spent about an hour raking them up at the invitation of a neighbor who was glad to have his yard cleared and, in the bargain, donate the leaves to a worthy cause.

Everything in this pile comes from various trees on our short street, one block long, plus a few bags I've collected during our nightly walks around the neighborhood. Feeling only slightly eccentric, I carry a grocery bag, a dustpan, and a flashlight, and whenever we come across a lush drift of leaves covering the sidewalk, I scoop them into the bag. Leaf Lady strikes again.

Leaves are free mulch, free fertilizer, and -- eventually -- free soil if you are willing to wait a couple of years for everything to break down. I use them in the compost bin to form alternate layers with kitchen scraps and also to cover dormant garden beds.

As my greed for leaves has become more widely known, some neighbors on the block have started leaving them in our front yard. Now I have two leaf piles!

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