The City of Portland has always had a lot
of trees. Much of Portland was forest before it was settled. I see some
of those old-growth conifers around me in my own inner-city
One of my past neighbors, Maud, who was
born and lived her 102 years nearby, knew what it was like in the early
days. When she went to school, the neighborhood had few houses. She
said going to school was like "walking through the forest."
As the decades went by, our neighborhood
and many others filled up with garden homes and to make room, many of
the old conifers came out. Where there was room, deciduous
trees--maples, oaks, chestnuts--tended to replace the confiers.
This time of year, however, autumnal winds
encourage the inevitable: falling leaves.
One things leads to another, leaves in the
streets invariably clog storm drain grates, and that leads to flooded
intersections and the dispatching of city crews to unclog drains.
Since this is all predictable: falling
leaves, rain, clogged storm drains, and flooded intersections; for
decades, the City has had "Leaf Days" in the neighborhoods heavy with
decidous trees. On Leaf Days, City crews arrive with maintenance
vehicles and tackle the problem street by street, block by block. One
loader will push a front attachment that looks like a hockey goal cage
and pile all the leaves on the street into heaps at intersections. A
front loader scoops up and drops the leaves into the waiting dump
trucks that depart for Compost Land.
It's always been a fairly orderly affair,
the City knowing that a scheduled stitch-in-time (the Leaf Day pickup)
beats dipatching maintenance crews to clear clogged intersections
during a driving rain storm everywhere.
One wrinkle in this orderly program,
however, has been homeowners buying power blowers and discarding bamboo
leaf rakes. So despite City assertions they only pick up leaves that
drop into the streets, when Leaf Day crews arrive, they are usually
greeted by an urgent whine of leaf blowers.
So in recent years, the City was picking
up more and more leaves.
The City's solution has been to let us
keep blowing leaves into the street. But we now pay for the privilege.
For the second year, I live in a City-designated Leaf Service Zone. We
homeowners pay $30 a year.
To be honest, I don't mind paying this
extra $30 a year. I see where my money goes every year. Those piles of
autumnal leaves at intersections waiting to trucked away are impressive.
Read Charlie Dickinson's
story collection, The Cat
at Light's End, as an ebook in these downloadable
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