More likely millions.
Quite possibly, trillions.
Or, if you asked Charlie, DECILLIONS.
For the past several weeks, Charlie has been riding his lawnmower around and around, mulching and collecting leaves. At least twice a week, he's doing some kind of yard maintenance and this activity has brought him an abundance of joy.
I thought that the reason he was so interested in cleaning up the yard is because he enjoys riding his lawnmower. Which he does. But also? I've learned that leaves across our lawn drive my typically level-headed husband obsessive-compulsive crazy.
When there are leaves on the ground, he is almost unable to think of anything except getting out there and removing them. I've tried to decipher the root of this compulsion and I don't think it has to do with keeping up with our neighbor's yard beautification projects. OK, maybe that has a little bit to do with it. But I think the primary cause is that Charlie's so accustomed to southern California and palm trees that don't shed.
This has obviously been an interesting venture in to my husband's psyche because while leaves on the ground don't bother me in the least ... toys on the ground drive me certifiably insane. And when disarray becomes particularly bad around our house (as it's been known to do), my husband is calm and collected, although highly confused? as to why? his wife and mother of his children? is acting like a total lunatic? and suggesting? that we haul ALL the children's toys off to Goodwill? and leave them with only a cardboard box with which to play?
For years, I've felt like it was just me battling some kind of psychosis.
This past Saturday, in honor of my husband's birthday, Charlie and I spent hours cleaning our front yard. Since I neglected to get him a present (bad wife!) I thought I'd indulge him on his need to have NO LEAVES ON THE GROUND. Of course, soon after we finished, a small breeze kicked up and those little leaves that we saw way up high on the trees, and which from that distance seemed so insignificant, had dislodged from their branches and were now blanketing our lawn. And then! There were leaf types that appeared from trees that we don't even have on our property. So we've concluded one of two things have likely occurred:
1. They floated to our yard or
2. Someone deposited them as a practical joke when we weren't looking.
While most of the trees around our neighborhood are oak, maple and beech ... perhaps next year I'll spread a bag full of gargantuan leaves, like those two-footers from the Empress Tree, on our neighbor's property just to see if they notice?
So Saturday we spent hours raking and blowing and mulching...
And as we worked, our children jumped in leaf piles and rejoiced in the sheer magic of childhood in the fall.
At one point, after we'd filled our 20th bag of mulched leaves and hauled them to the sidewalk (Charlie is adamantly opposed to burning leaves for reasons that I cannot articulate), my husband casually mentioned that if we were to remove a few key trees in our back yard, our leaf removal efforts would be significantly reduced. Note: our back yard is at least six times the size of our front yard with over 30 trees as opposed to the TWO in front.
Coming from a man who was thrilled to buy this lot because of the acreage and believes this to be one of the most beautiful spots on earth, it surprised me to hear him look over our backyard and say, "Jen, just think of it! If we were to chop down that tree ... and that one ... and that one..." and then he paused for a moment before eagerly pointing, "And that one, and that one, that one, that one, that one, that one, that one, and THAT ONE ... this whole area would be completely DEVOID of leaves!"
"So ... Charlie … what you are suggesting to me is that we chop down ALL the trees on our beautiful wooded lot so we won't have to rake leaves anymore?"
My husband's blue eyes sparkled.
And that's when I realized even the sanest among us, have their triggers.