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The Big, the Bad, and the Beautiful in a Late Fall Harvest

Autumn Leaves: To Rake or to Blow? Raking Is the Only Way to Go!

Leaves Under Foot Sue Frause
The leaves we leave behind. All photos by Sue Frause.

By Sue Frause

One of my favorite seasonal tasks when autumn arrives is to rake leaves. In mid-November, thanks to a wild windstorm here in the Pacific Northwest that left us without power for 30 hours, the final batches of leaves descended from the two giant maple trees holding court in our front yard.

Maple Tree Sue Frause
One of two giant maple trees in our front yard.
Leaves Sue Frause
Leaves of gold on a blue-sky day.

Now, before you get all huffy about the fact that I’m raking leaves and not letting them rest in peace, here’s my routine. 

I don my rubber boots and fingerless gloves, haul out the garden cart and bamboo rake, and tackle the endless carpet of gold. The process is simple and repetitive, and makes for a nifty outdoor workout. I rake the leaves into neat little piles that I transfer to the garden cart.

Leaf Cart Sue Frause
Let the raking begin!

When the cart is full, off to Farmer Bob’s garden I go -- where they are spread out semi-evenly (kicking works great), serving as a natural mulch. The Natural Wildlife Federation recommends either letting leaves lie where they fall or moving them into garden beds to “protect your plants’ roots, suppress weeds, preserve soil moisture and eventually break down and return nutrients to the soil.” Here at Frause Acres, we have chosen the latter.

Leaf Compost Sue Frause
The leaves are spread out in the garden over a cover crop.

Now, there is one minor hiccup with my autumnal ritual. A number of years ago, something called a leaf blower was added to Farmer Bob’s expansive collection of farm and garden tools. To me, leaf blowers are an urban tool, not something to be used on a semi-rural three-acre spread. Granted, the Husqvarna model he uses is battery operated (meaning emissions free). But even though it’s described as ‘noiseless,’ the orange and black tool is irritatingly loud.

Blowing Leaves Sue Frause
Farmer Bob with his Husqvarna.

In comparison, while I’m doing my old fashioned leaf raking, Eva Cassidy’s version of ‘Autumn Leaves’ runs through my head -- when I hear a leaf blower, it sounds like head-banging music, which isn’t on my playlist. I’ll take Eva over AC/DC any day. 

Frost Sue Frause
Piles of leaves at Frause Acres.

Although I feel that my leaf raking has morphed into somewhat of an autumnal art form, it will never catch up to this Canadian fellow’s “amazing ephemeral leaf art ” in Vancouver, British Columbia. And no, he doesn’t use a leaf blower. 

Editors' note: We agree with Sue on this whole leaf blower thing!


Sue Frause is a prolific, long-time journalist and photographer whose work has appeared in print and online in the US and abroad. For 15 years, she wrote an award-winning column for The South Whidbey Record. She currently writes not one, not two, but three blogs: Eat|Play|Sleep, Closet Canuck, and married to martha. She is also a regular on Around the World Radio. In her many travels, she's visited all seven continents, but her favorite place in the world is right there on Whidbey Island.