In New England you always know what season it is. As soon as the clocks are turned back, there are hoards of supermarket shoppers whose carts are overflowing with carbs and sugars. Tempers are short and soon the lack of sun brings on the usual cases of seasonal-related depression. By Thanksgiving there’s not a Pepperidge Farm cookie on the shelf.
Throughout the autumn there is no such thing as the sounds of silence. There’s a constant chorus of leaf blowers, mulchers, sweepers, and soon the snow blowers rule and even the squirrels wear earplugs.
My neighbor, who is retired, lives for lawn care. Whenever it’s not raining, he spends most days sitting on the bench near his garage door, waiting for some leaves to fall on his pristine lawn. His driveway is overly lit with eight large lampposts and it’s so wide and black that a small plane circled overhead the other day thinking it was a landing strip.
This guy has so many lawn and snow-related machines that his garage looks like a John Deere warehouse. As soon as the first leaves (I mean leaf) falls, out comes the humongous riding vacuum with dual exhaust and twin tanks mounted on the caboose. He’s had it custom-fitted with radial white wall tires and two cup holders.
The pride of his collection is the John Deere “senior” with front-wheel drive, a mulching and a cutting blade, and a giant vacuum attachment to retrieve clippings before they hit the ground. There’s a little dashboard meter that flashes a red light to warn when you’ve missed a spot.
This rider is not as loud as his snow mover/blower, which my neighbor takes out in October. I can see the garage door slowly open as he stands in front of it smoothing on his leather-palmed driving gloves. After checking under the hood and using a turkey-feathered duster to remove spider webs, he starts it up, revving the engine. Then he zips around his driveway just to get the feel of it again.
My neighbor is really nice and is always concerned about his neighbors. Without being asked, he handles the snow blowing jobs for everyone in my neighborhood and the public sidewalks. Last year he started clearing a new neighbor’s walk when the homeowner opened his window and yelled out PLEASE GET OFF MY PROPERTY. (He had recently moved here from New York.)
The other day my thoughtful neighbor waved me over to take a look at his newest machine. There, spread out on the front yard, was a huge motorized paint sprayer. The tubular contraption looked like something James Bond might wear to lift off. Demonstrating this sprayer, my neighbor lifted it up and pointed the nozzle toward his clapboard shingles.
I said, “Oooh, I see, you’re going to use this to paint your house. Wow, that will be finished fast!”
He cupped his hand around one of his ears and leaned closer, “Wha’da you say?”