Over the past few of months I made the decision that, since I haven’t been fishing enough to warrant writing much on that topic, I would just remain silent. There’s something very soothing in silence. Besides, how much can be written about fishing that hasn’t already been written? Even my reports about the annual Firehole Rangers trips start sounding like cut-and-paste jobs after a while. But when a recent inquiry by a
dedicated follower noted how quiet things had been lately, I decided to break my silence, to use this blog as a venue for publishing my thoughts on other matters as they strike me. It’s my blog, after all, so I can do what I damn well please. If you’re one of the 7 or 9 readers who continue to buy a ticket to the show, I imagine that—as I veer off the fly fishing topic—those numbers will dwindle to the point where nobody is reading the content other than myself and the unfortunate person who stumbles upon my blog while going down the rabbit hole of the internet. That said, the following entry is something that I feel compelled to write about. If you don’t like it, I’m sure there are still some fly fishing blogs that remain for your enjoyment. I wouldn’t know, however: once popular and plentiful, fly fishing blogs seem to be going the way of the Neanderthal.
Many of you will probably probably disagree with what I am writing about today because that’s what it seems we Americans do more and more: we disagree with one another. If you’re not American, you probably disagree with what Americans are disagreeing about, and Americans take issue with that. And in this divisive time of rampant disagreement and intolerance of opposing views, there exists a no more heated topic of debate than politics.
And this is an election year.
But it’s also Fall, or Autumn, depending upon which term you elect to use in your vocabulary (neither is wrong, it’s just a matter of preference and should be respectfully honored). Being
Autumn Fall the Leaf Season, as I sit here in my office—even with the window closed—I can hear the roar of a distant yard appliance. The sound of fallen foliage management is so loud that it nearly drowns out the the political ads spewing from the radio. Ah, yes, ’tis the season of the leaf blower.
These raging 2 cycle, gas-powered machines are as divisive as any measure on the ballot. People either love them or hate them.
Those that don’t have a leaf blower detest them for either their noise or air pollution, undoubtedly both. These same folks also probably have yards the size of a postage stamp that can be managed with a rake. More likely, they hire a service to do their yard work (and these hired hands will, without a doubt, employ the use a leaf blower so there is some irony to be found here). On the other side of the fence are those that do have leaf blowers and value these tools for their efficient means of scattering large expanses of fallen leaves.
There is very little middle ground to be occupied on the matter. Some people attempt to reach across the isle, if you will, to adopt a more neutral stance by purchasing cute, little handheld electric leaf blowers that are much quieter than their gas-powered brethren. The problem with these is that they are also a lot less
manly effective. To get the deafening power required for tackling the big jobs, one needs a backpack style, gas-burning, smoke-puking 2-stroke engine that is capable of moving acres of wet leaves (and post-Halloween candy wrappers). It’s what the professionals use. It’s what I have.
I purchased my Stihl BR320 nearly 20 years ago (BTW, BR stands for BRAAAAP) and it’s a workhorse of a machine that would make Tim Allen proud. It has never required service—other than a new spark plug and air cleaner every few years—and it always starts on the 3rd pull. Always (knock on wood). Much like the politicians flooding the media with their pre-election messages, this thing is a serious blowhard; a serious tool that generates hurricane-force wind speeds.
However, gas-powered leaf blownership is not altogether a cut-and-dried matter because, while I love mine, I loath it at the same time. It’s loud (I wear shooting ear muffs for protection) and it’s not without its share of emissions (it smokes visibly upon start up, after which the exhaust pollutants are not visible though they are still evident). As one who does, in fact, care about the environment, I’d be remiss if I said I didn’t feel a twinge of guilt when I fire up the old Stihl. Still, use it I do each Fall when the leaves, well, they fall. I also use a rake, but the blower does the heavy work.
We have, in particular, 3 large maple trees in our front yard that yield an inordinately vast supply of foliage. These trees drop their collective loads over the span of a month, beginning innocently enough in mid October, gaining speed and intensity before finally ending sometime around the second or third week in November. A good wind storm, or lack thereof, can either shorten or extend Leaf Season by as much as a week. During the height of the madness, suffice it to say it’s an every-three-days endeavor to attempt (in vain) to stay ahead of the amassing spent vegetation. It should be noted that these leaves are nearly always wet from rain, thus requiring a bit of extra effort to remove them. Even with the right tools it’s a time-consuming and unsavory task, unless you’re like this guy:
Truth be told, the leaf blower is something I’m glad I have, but wish I never had to use. I don’t enjoy managing fallen leaves, but shy of cutting down the offending trees the leaves are just something I have to live with. Fortunately Leaf Season, as well as the election and the accompanying political ads, will be over with soon (though not soon enough). Then we can all get back to enjoying the peace and quiet, and arguing about politics for another two years.
Meanwhile, you enjoy this video. I know I did.