Some people are very good at raking leaves. They collect them into little piles, put them into compostable bags, and leave them in tidy rows for the trucks to pick up. Some people are so fanatic about raking, in fact, that they not only spend hours chasing down every leaf on their property, but they actually rake the trees. Yes, my husband saw it with his own eyes: a neighbour combing his garden rake through the branches of a small tree, presumably so he wouldn’t have even one un-raked bit of tree left on his lawn.
I admit it. A few days ago under the cover of darkness, I stole some of those tidy bags of leaves. I had been eyeing them for quite some time, jealous at the bounty of beautiful soon-to-be compost on other people’s lawns. Every time I drove through a neighbourhood with big, tall trees I would see the bags sitting by the curb, not wanted by their owners, looking sad and forlorn. And then I would come home to my pathetic little trees with their dozen or so leaves (OK, there are a few more than that, but not many. Our house is only 15 years old.) I wish I had leaves like those neighbourhoods, I would think to myself.
I finally confessed my leaf envy to my husband. I told him about my urge to steal them. I asked him if he thought stealing was wrong. He sighed and told me it would probably be fine. “They are garbage, dear. If people wanted them they wouldn’t put them out at the curb”. I realized this was probably true.
And so I went to a leafy neighborhood with my 10 year old accomplice (what kind of a mother am I?) and slowly pulled up to a row of bags. We hopped out, and managed to load three of them into the back of the van (we would have taken more but there wasn’t room). All the while I was making sure we weren’t seen by any nosy neighbours or accosted by any nearby leaf-lovers. Thankfully, the work was fast and easy, given the fact that dried leaves don’t weigh very much.
Then I came home, smug and happy, and put them out in my backyard near the compost bins. I will use some to layer into my compost as I add fresh kitchen scraps, and the rest will go into the garden once they have broken down into fine leaf mould.
Whoever said one man’s junk is another man’s treasure knew just he was talking about.