In the gardening universe, there are several schools of thought on those glorious, yet vexatious, autumn beauties we call leaves. The prevalent thought in my neighborhood is to turn our lawns into barenaked ladies. By the end of October, it’s a neighborhood gone wild. We’re not talking the landscape here. The Lee Valley rakes and leaf blowers come out and we try to get this chore done by Remembrance Day which, this year, has come and gone, and we still have leaves on the trees. Global warming may be causing us to shift that target date. I’m trying not to boogie here, because global warming is serious business, but I do love my leaves. Last weekend, two girls and a wagon pulled up to my garage door. A blonde cutie with a rake asked if I wanted my lawn cleared for $3…or less. While I applauded the entrepreneurship, I had to say — I love my leaves. Once she got over the shock of this counter-culture thriving right on her street, we agreed that two-girls-and-a-wagon should check back later in the fall.
I’ll say it again. The problem is that I love my autumn leaves. In our garden (Think of it as a WIP that’s never going to make it out the front door with all the tinkering going on.), we rake the leaves into big piles and play with them hours on end, much to the delight of our 2 1/2 year old Golden Retriever. Eventually — and that’s a looong eventually — we get around to moving those leaves; not into the large, brown enviro bags that get parked neatly at the curb for garbage day, but onto the lawn-bordering perennial beds to help our bulbs and bushes winter-over. Me, I’d really like to leave them right on the lawn but can hear the collective neighborhood gasp already. Shunning could be involved!
The leaves are good for the flowers and shrubs. They protect their feet and make a cozy blanket for the young bulbs, so they don’t shiver through the bitterly cold months. They add visual interest to what would otherwise be a barren winter landscape. Mostly, I just love the look of snow on wet autumn leaves. When the snow deepens and I can no longer see the leaves, I like knowing they’re there doing what they need to do to make my garden pop in its time.
Lest you think this a gardening blog, we’ll get back to the leaves dropping all over my plot.
It’s important to write a tight story, of course. But, if it’s too tight, I may risk losing the rich texture and color, the earthy smell, the satisfying crunch of the story — if I rake my plot bare.
OTOH, if I don’t tidy it up a bit — put those leaves where they will do the most good — the plot’s going to be a bit messy, maybe slippery underfoot, hard to traverse.
Finding a balance between bagging your leaves and parking them at the curb, and using them to support and nourish your plot over the length of your story is key.
Those are Elen’s thoughts. What are your thoughts?