Thursday, December 6, 2012

Mama and the Leaves


My strategy used to be: Wait until all the leaves have fallen off the trees and then gather them up. Sure, it would be one murder of a day, raking and bagging literally tons of leaves....I say literally because obviously tons of leaves do not fall from less than a dozen trees. Maybe, thousands of leaves, but then I would just say that and not "literally thousands of leaves" because there are thousands of leaves on the ground. Yes, I think people overuse the word literally.

Okay, back to leaf-gathering strategies. The Mama's strategy: Pick up leaves every morning. Depending on the season, it may take her less than 30 minutes to several hours before she is satisfied that her garden is neat. The Mama dislikes the sight of leaves on the ground. She actually grumbles and shudders when she passes people's yards that are full of leaves. "If that was mine," she always says. "I wouldn't stand it." The husband or I usually respond, "Look away."

The Mama is a neat freak when it comes to her gardens. She also sweeps out there. The Mama has pretty much swept the top soil away between her rows. I gave up years ago trying to convince her that she wants to use the "mess" she sweeps as mulch. "See, look, it's already making soil," I'd say, letting the dirt fall through my fingers. "Hmmph," she'd say, pushing her broom.

People are impressed with how smooth and clean the garden pathways are. You can eat off the ground in the Mama's garden. Literally.  Or, would that be figuratively?

When the Mama was in the hospital this summer, I went out and raked leaves every day. That way she wouldn't shudder when she first looked out the window. More importantly, she wouldn't feel compelled to go out there and start raking. And, she would.

Twenty-some years ago, the Mama was in a horrible car crash. So terrible that the first responders used the Jaws of Life to pry her out of her car. Then she was flown by helicopter to the emergency department at the Stanford Hospital, which was 60 miles or so away. The first responders were concerned by all the blood that they saw around the car, but it turned out that the blood was from the butchered pig in the trunk, which the Mama and her brother had  slaughtered at a nearby ranch. Fortunately, both of them just had the wind knocked out of them.

While the Mama stayed overnight in the hospital, I made arrangements for her cousin to stay with her until she got better. Ha! Instead of her cousin taking care of her, the Mama was taking care of her cousin because, after all, her cousin was a guest in her home.  So, I learned. Even sick or injured, the Mama will do what the Mama wants to do or believes she must do.

It has been raining lately. The backyard is too muddy to get to the leaves to rake. Not that the Mama hasn't tried. I have found footprints in the mud. At first, I thought the neighbor's son had climbed over the back fence again. Nope, it was the Mama's footprints. That goodness the Mama can't stand walking in mud. For her, that's worse than seeing leaves all over the place.

But, you know, I'm itching to rake the mess of leaves, too.  I've come around to the Mama's strategy. That's right, I enjoy the time raking leaves in the morning before breakfast. It's zen. It's instant gratification of accomplishment. It's more bonding with the Mama.


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