10:29:12 Leaf Day

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 neighborhood.

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.

[portland leaf day]

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.

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The Cat at Light's End

Read Charlie Dickinson's story collection, The Cat at Light's End, as an ebook in these downloadable formats:

.mobi (Kindle)
.epub (most other readers)
.pdf (for PCs)

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