From the Blog

I’m Not Kidding About The Goddamn Leaf Blowers

It’s autumn. I get it. Trees, leaves, wind, decorative motherfucking gourds, all that. I like autumn. I do.

I like leaves, too! They’re pretty as hell this time of year, and they’ve been exceptionally pretty this season. I’ve loved taking the boys for walks and pointing out all the different colors. I’ve given the boys leaves to play with, and they’ve promptly eaten them, like crispy, colorful salad from the ground.

Autumn. Leaves. I GET IT.

But you may have noticed on this blog, that I have an aversion to leaf blowers. I don’t think this makes me an unreasonable person. Leaf blowers are fucking annoying. I know I’m not alone in feeling this way.

I had someone close to me, who shall remain nameless, ask me if I’d ever used a leaf blower. This person said, “You really ought to try it, before you complain about them. Leaf blowers are fun.”

FUN. Leaf blowers are FUN. Okay, sure, I believe that. They blow leaves and shit. They are powerful and noisy. Nothing like being in charge of something that makes a lot of noise. Leaf blowers make short work of a task that would normally be boring, time consuming, and very slightly physically strenuous.

But that has to be the most ridiculously entitled way to have “fun.”  Hey, all neighbors within a two block radius…listen to me having fucking fun over here! 

But you know what? I live in a neighborhood where everyone leafblows. Everyone is doing it. Everyone in our dense little urban-suburban neighborhood fires up their leaf blowers in jubilation, blowing the scourge of leaves from their tiny yards. The high-pitched weekend buzzing echoes from yard to yard, street to street. Leaves billow and scamper in terror. Neighbors answer each other in howls of primal, carbon-fueled joy, like coyotes hunting on the wide open range.

Now. I never liked leaf blowers. I like them a whole lot less now that I have babies.

We live near a number of churches, with big, manicured lawns. During the summer, the leaf blowers came on Wednesday mornings during the boys’ naps. Sometimes they came on Thursday mornings too, because, as I said, we live near a number of churches. These leaf-blowing-while-babies-napping inspired a series of summer poetry that will likely land me a book deal one day.

The boys are afraid of leaf blowers. They are also afraid of vacuums, so you should see the dust bunnies that live at our house (a story for another time). Both boys tremble and cry when they hear a vacuum or leaf blower. We scoop them up and soothe them and try to explain that, yes, the noise is loud, but it can’t hurt them. But they are babies. They don’t understand English. They just want to noise to stop.

So it’s autumn, and there are leaves. One of our neighbors has a huge oak tree that fired acorns upon our car like bullets from a pistol. The acorns are gone, but now the leaves are creating an ever-accumulating carpet all over our apartment complex. I’m ambivalent about the leaves, and what happens to them. But I know they “must” be cleared away, from the driveways, from the gutters, from every corner of the yard. Let no trace of foul flora remain!

And of course, the landscapers that take care of our building came while the boys were napping. And of course, they didn’t bring one leaf blower, but three.

I wondered, briefly, if the boys might actually sleep through the racket. I have been stunned in the past, what they are able to sleep through, like, oh, say, a huge goddamn thunderstorm. But each man fired up the leaf blowers strapped to their backs. One, two, three. They surrounded the house and the leaves swirled and stormed outside.

I almost couldn’t hear the wails of my frantic babies over the din. I burst into their room, and they were both standing in their cribs in an utter, terrified panic. The leaf blowers roared outside. They both pleaded with me to save them, their eyes wide, and their faces streaked with tears.

Here’s where having twins can get a little tricky. I scooped up one boy from his crib and he wrapped his arms around my neck. The other boy was still in his crib, reaching up for me. I had to put the first baby on the floor, and he screamed! This is not saving me! Ma! Goddamnit! I grabbed the second baby and hoisted him out of his crib. Both boys were frightened and inconsolable.

Time sort of slowed down just then, as my brain tried to work out how to get both boys from the floor and into my arms without dropping them. I was already holding one boy. I kneeled and gathered up the second boy in my free arm. Great. So now I’m kneeling and I’m holding 45 pounds of babies in my arms. I sometimes need to hold onto things just to get my own self off the floor. Never mind myself and two toddlers.

I propped up a knee and grasped the side of a crib for leverage. I strained and heaved the three of us to standing. I managed to not drop either kid. I graciously accept your nominations for Mother of the Year.

I carried the boys into the living room and lowered the three of us onto the couch. They both clung to me. They were trembling! Poor scared little boys! I rocked them back and forth and they both put their heads down on my shoulders. I held them tight. They hitched their breaths and warily eyed the windows, where the awful noises were coming from. Loyal flinched as a cloud of oak leaves clattered against the glass.

I shushed and smoothed their hair. I talked to them softly and tried to reassure them. They were remarkably motionless, both curled up in my arms. These are usually wiggly little boys. They don’t want to cuddle anymore unless they are exhausted.

They both eventually seemed to calm a little, looking up at me, and at each other, and out the windows. The men with leaf blowers lumbered around outside.

The three of us enjoyed the togetherness. Perhaps I’m reading into it, but I like to think it helped them not to just have me close, but each other. They were looking to each other for comfort. They were both huddled on my chest, a breath away from each other, their heads pressed together.

You okay?
Yeah, I’m okay. You?   
I’m okay too.

I knew they were feeling better when Loyal put his fingers in Casc’s mouth, and they both giggled. They pawed at each other and squirmed. I still held them tight on the couch, but I wasn’t really there anymore. They poked each other and laughed. There’s nothing funnier than when your brother tries to put his hand in your mouth.

And with that, they were okay.

The leaf blowers, however, can suck it.


  1. noise is a bummer. my neighbor manages to fire up his lawnmower the very moment my ass hits my couch for a TV time, and he follows it with his leaf blower. I cannot really bitch, since i myself used my leaf blower on sunday morning at 10 am. but i agree with you, it all manages to somehow escalate until it crescendos into a tidal wave of mind-jangling aggression. hopefully, the boys will not be terrorized by loud noises for their whole lives. i had a stray kitty once who was terrified of garbage trucks (and no wonder, poor thing). even after she was safe inside she would freak out and hide under the bed. i had her asleep on my chest/tummy one day when they came down the street, she dug her claws in, pressed her head into my armpit and just shivered with terror, poor thing. noise sucks. you are good mommy =)

  2. OK looks like next visit to Grampa’s house we’ll be doing some gasoline engine acclimation. First we’ll do the (fun) leaf blower then we’ll move onto the pressure washer and finally some nice 70’s vintage car revving.

  3. I moved to the PDX area recently and have never seen “leaf blowing” at this level. It’s a sport here. What’s up with that?

  4. I’ve been asking for years whatever happened to the rake? It’s so great to use a RAKE! Everyone complains about leafblowers, but I hardly ever see anyone using a RAKE. And when I used to work at a major building supply big box store, do you know what never broke and didn’t get returned? RAKES.

  5. I like rakes. And y’know what’s fun? Raking all the leaves into the big trash bag, then bouncing on it to mush them! Bounce bounce bounce! Yardwork that makes you cackle with joy ain’t so bad. :D

  6. Daniel Crew says

    I fu@#! €& hate leaf blowers and the idiots who use them. Who can not imagine how shit ass annoying they are. As I sat to read this article one fired up. Probably a half mile away. Assholes!

  7. A pox on the inventor of the leaf blower! The leaves have fallen here in NC and the leaf blowing is in full swing. They are a huge source of noise and pollution. Mostly noise, IMHO.

    One of the things I don’t get is that, while it may seem easier to wave a magical leaf-blowing wand than raking, they aren’t efficient at all. I have watched two people wield them over a fairly small neighbor’s front lawn for the past 20 minutes and they are probably only 25% done clearing the leaves. It stems from waiting until you have a deep layer of leaves on your lawn. By that time, the blowers won’t blow everything away in one pass; it takes several because the leaves are so thick and heavy. A rake, combined with a strategically placed tarp or sheet of plastic, is way quicker.

    Also, wouldn’t raking actually increase your heart rate somewhat? It seems like that would be more beneficial to your health than breathing exhaust fumes and being deafened by a 2-stroke motor. I highly doubt most people think of protecting their hearing while using one of those things.

    When the weather is nice, I really like to open all of the windows to let some fresh air in. This is my favorite time of year because it is both nice outside and the allergens aren’t as bad as in the spring. When I am working remotely, it never fails for at least one bastard to decide that the deadly fallen leaves must be blown “someplace else”. That totally kills having the windows open. Add a few more bastards to the mix and you get a drone not unlike a hornet’s nest. Maddening!

    Hopefully we are moving to a greener future where these stupid machines will be banned and will no longer have a place in our society.

    Ah, after 45 minutes the blowing has ceased! Time to refuel? Oh, the devices are no longer working to move the mountains of leaves, so they are getting out a few rakes and a tarp. Of course I can still hear the drone of a few more blowers in the distance. Pardon the sigh.

  8. Patricia Russell says

    I like leaves, too! Leaf Blowers are noisy and disturbing. I don’t like this.

  9. The leaf blowers start at 8:15 Monday and the equipment – electric saws, etc. – go on pretty much every week day. The HOA has no one monitoring people doing repairs or gardening. The homeowners are pretty much just there to increase property values. We have no say. No control. Our opinion is worth nothing. Except if we express them we can be penalized and targeted by HOA. I saw one repair that would normally take a few days – go on for months – there’s a lot of “pretend” work going on. Costs and time frames are never relayed to homeowners. There is no recourse. How would it effect the value of my home if people knew the truth about the HOA. It’s like Stepford, Connecticut around here.

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