Tuesday, November 30, 2010


The Knitternall family celebrated Thanksgiving in our pajamas, slept soundly for five blessed nights, read great books, enjoyed the latest Harry Potter movie, watched schmaltzy Christmas movies on the Hallmark channel, and tackled a few too-long-delayed chores. We left the biggest job until Sunday, not because of procrastination, but because of rain. Our house was surrounded by an ocean of leaves. Maple, oak, poplar, and chestnut leaves covered the ground, sidewalk, driveway, front steps, bench, and shrub.

We filled 25 lawn bags, hauled huge piles on tarps to the back woods at least a dozen times, and finally managed to take care of the windfall.

At one point, my son asked why we couldn't just burn the leaves, which would result in far less effort and provide many opportunities for fire-poking (his favorite camping activity). Informed there's a law against that, he rolled his eyes. "There are way too many laws." Rather than embark on a parental lecture about fire hazards, pollution, and fire safety, I agreed. Because there are. Too many laws. At his age, it's not as easy to differentiate between the "good" laws and the "oh, puh-lease" laws. (Chickens come to mind.)

Actually, I'd love to burn the leaves. I have many childhood memories of my grandfather burning leaves in whichever part of the yard he planned to till for the next season's garden. He swore that the burned leaves, mixed in with the dirt, made a good garden. And since the bounty from that garden fed the entire family through the Depression and long after grandchildren joined the dinner table, it worked.

I loved the smell of burning leaves, the fun of tossing small sticks into the flames, the conversations of the adults who stood around watching it just in case, and the fun of dodging the smoke as the wind changed direction occasionally. Leaf burning was always on a still, windless day - simple common sense.

Ah, well. At least we still have a wood-burning fireplace, having resisted the installation of gas logs over the years. Thanksgiving was too warm for a good fire, but we're finally trending toward consistently cold weather. So we'll smell that cozy, wood-burning warmth very, very soon.

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