Thursday, November 26, 2009
The Preacher’s Corner
“Go natural” and let the leaves lie
Sorting through old family photos is always fun, and I’ve been at it for the past couple of weeks. There are many photos of my grandmother (mother’s mother), but not a single one showing her in the activities I remember best. These were at her cooking in the kitchen, tending her beloved roses, and reading her Bible just before bed.
Grandmother lived in a world before women’s liberation, and I don’t suppose anyone ever asked her if she wanted to be a wife and mother, or if cooking was her preference, much less her pleasure. I doubt if she even raised these points in her own mind. As I say, it was a different era.
I do think, however, that Grandmother genuinely loved her flowers. Almost every morning she would be out tending them. Periodically she would engage a paid helper to do some of the heavy work, but she could wield a rake as easily as she could cut her roses for beautiful floral arrangements.
My zeal for yard work comes in fits and starts. Mostly fits. But last week’s weather was irresistible, and I resolved to go outside and rake the back yard. But I had to do it carefully, so as not to end up at the chiropractor’s. I am pleased to say the result was achieved.
The front yard will have to wait. Not all the trees in my vicinity have dropped their leaves. I note that the pecan trees go first, then the dogwoods, with the oaks and maples last. I am not inclined to pre-empt Mother Nature on this score. Every year I threaten to “go natural” and let the leaves lie, so nature can take her course.
Presbyterian ministers have always insisted on a Biblical warrant for everything they do, so if you ask me for one now, I would say it is where God told Adam and Eve “to dress and keep the garden.”
But, as I say, I do my yard work mostly under the compulsion of, “What will the neighbors think?” and I wonder if Adam and Eve may have felt the same way, hence the genesis of “original sin.”
When I rake, I always think. This time, I caught a whiff from who knows where of someone burning leaves. You are not supposed to do that in Holly Springs, but when I was a child in Cleveland, everybody did. Fire is “natural,” so I cannot see what harm it does, although I do recall a time or two when the fire truck had to come and extinguish someone’s yard after the leaf pile got out of hand.
Burning the leaves was a satisfying exercise. You got to see the cycle of nature go full circle. Grandmother burned our leaves, but only after I was allowed to dive into the pile, running at a full gallop with our terrier “Skipper” following close behind.
“Nice people,” my grandmother assured me, always took their leaves around back to burn.
The last time I noticed someone burning leaves was on the highway between Byhalia and Hernando. A man was feeding a huge pile and the smoke was blowing nicely toward the west. The only trouble was that his wife’s clothes line was in that direction, and it was being thoroughly smoked. The man was raking away, resolutely facing in the other direction, but I’ll bet he had to run the washer and re-hang those linens once his wife realized what had happened!
The human memory is a wonderful thing, when even a whiff of burning leaves can make us think of happy autumns in the long ago. Whatever the state of our bank account, we have a great deal to be thankful for, and my prayer for each one who reads this is a hearty Thanksgiving, and time to pause, remember, and be grateful.
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