Streets

November 21, 2020

I could not figure out what the loud whirling sound was outside yesterday afternoon.  Usually when we get loud machine noises, they only last a short while.  This droned on for minutes and seemed to be getting louder.  Melissa came into my office and told me I needed to go outside and look at the beautiful colors on our snowball bush as its leaves had turned and were ready to drop.  When I went out, I did see the bush, but also the cause of the noise.  We had a street sweeper combing the neighborhood.  It was going up and down the neighborhood streets scrubbing the leaves.  It was equipped with a huge vacuum (the source of the noise) which literally sucked the leaves into the trucks trash bin.

Several years ago, Melissa and I went to New Orleans for Mardi Gras (Bucket List: check).  While most of the heavy partying went on late at night, we were usually in bed by midnight and were up early the next morning to explore the sights before the crowds got up.  That meant we got to witness the cleanup crews that went up and down the streets in the French Quarter.  This was a combination of a water truck and a street sweeper.  A smaller version of a street sweeper would pass through the narrow streets sucking most of the trash into its receptacle.  Then two men came behind the water truck hosing the sidewalks and gutters, flushing everything down the drains.  The street was ready for another night of revelry.

When I moved to Kansas my house had two large Bur oak (Quercus macrocarpa) trees in the front yard.  I bought a mulching mower when I moved to the house.  This was for the leaves more than the grass.  I would wait until the leaves dropped and then mulch them under.  One year they all seemed to drop overnight.  While I could not get to them before work, I knew the job waited at the end of the day.  You may have heard, Kansas is windy.  When I got home that evening my yard was completely bare.  I never did figure out where the leaves went, but I did not have to mow.  A win/win for me. 

Thoughts:  Our yard has had a lot less leaves this year than in the past.  We could not figure out why, until we realized there had been four large trees removed from several neighbors’ yards.  Our Red Japanese Maple (Acer palmatum) has been dropping its leaves on the succulent bed beneath it.  When it stops, I will have to get the leave blower and blow them into the yard to be mulched under.  I mulch because I do not like to rake, but also for the environment.  A study by Michigan State University indicates that mulching is 100% beneficial for the lawn.  Mulched leaves are decomposed by earthworms and microorganisms and turned into plant-usable organic matter.  Mulched leaves are better for the greater community, too, because they stay on-site and out of landfills.  Another win/win.  Follow the science.  Change is coming and it starts with you.

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