The Final Rake of the Season


Snow falls at MMU, Nov. 25, 2013.

Snow falls at MMU, Nov. 25, 2013.

Winter is upon us in Iowa. We had almost an inch of snow overnight, and more fell this morning.

Then, this afternoon, a cool, low, winter sun poked through the clouds—it wasn’t much, but it was enough, with the ground still a bit warm to strip away some of the snow cover.

Still, it should be cold tonight—typical of an Iowa winter. The night after a snowfall, if there is no blanket of clouds to hold the heat, is often when we get bitterly cold. Well, it will be cold, very cold, but not precisely arctic cold that we will see in January.

The snow and cold makes me grateful I stole several precious hours Sunday to rake my back yard.

Yardy cart Sunday in back yard. The yard would look much whiter today. It was a cool afternoon for raking, but it was still nice to be out in the sun.

Yardy cart Sunday in back yard. The yard would look much whiter today. It was a cool afternoon for raking, but it was still nice to be out in the sun.

The tulip tree, the first one to start turning colors and almost the last one to lose it leaves, has gone fully to sleep and is stripped of its big, attractive foliage. The big oaks are very barren—which feels a bit odd, because they usually cling to a few leaves throughout most of the winter. They were quick to drop and thorough about it, this year.

A few trees are stubborn. The pears clasp at last season’s leaves like a pair of misers. The leaves are clearly and thoroughly dead, but just have not been severed from the trees yet. The snow and wind today may have had an effect, but on Sunday when I raked, the pears were the most notable exceptions to the bare-leaf look of most of my trees. The bur oak also retains its now brown and dead leaves. One other exception—which is hardly surprising, because it is this particular tree’s normal behavior, is the perennially sickly dogwood at the bottom of the yard, with its shroud of withered leaves that will last well into winter. Why do certain trees cling to their leaves? Are they like a cold old lady, shivering in her shawl?

No, they’re not, but it’s what they look like.

Bur oak. One of the few stingy trees left with its now dead leaves still clinging.

Bur oak. One of the few stingy trees left with its now dead leaves still clinging.

Anyway, my left arm is sore today. I spent two days this weekend carrying around grandchildren, which is a very pleasurable way to earn a sore arm, and totally worth it. And I lifted weights Sunday at the gym. And then I spent two hours raking.

The raking was a bit tough because there was still some snow stuck between the matted leaves. Water always equals weight, whether frozen or wet.

I got the job done, however. I raked some leaves onto the roses, and the rest were piled into the yardy card, or they were either tossed over or raked through the gate of the back fence.

Then, more vigorously than last week, it snowed overnight. The yard is ready for winter. I don’t think I am, but the yard is.

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