The image you see to the left is how the front yard of our house, the one we’ve lived in since 2004, starts to look as the leaves begin to fall from the sweet gum tree situated in the parkway. It’s a big tree on city property that yields shade in the Summer and as is obvious, requires a little maintenance in Fall.
This is not the worst the front yard has looked, though. Over the years the tree has dropped enough leaves for Anthony to play in a pile of them which makes for a fantastic backdrop but a few years ago, that problem was solved when the city decided to trim the tree down a bit. The leaves you see are just about all we get now.
Yet someone still complains.
You know the person because every neighborhood has one: the resident who has been there the longest and knows everything there is to know about everyone who ever set foot on the sidewalks. The resident who lives on gossip, is always right, and whose grandkids are much more superior than your kids in every category.
Yes, that one. In this case and for obvious reasons, we’ll call her Mrs. Kravitz.
When we first moved into our place (formerly the home of Ann’s grandfather), we had already known Mrs. Kravitz and a little about her tendencies to gossip as well as her nosiness. Once we were settled and raking up the leaves on the front yard became my normal weekend activity, Mrs. Kravitz dutifully reminded me of how Ann’s grandfather would rake them up every day and make sure there were no leaves left behind.
Fine and well. He was also retired and had little to do outside of dining out every meal of the day.
(An aside: because of her gossipy ways, I tend not to speak with her nor give her information. She once saw me and Anthony in the store after I had taken him to the doctor. She asked why he wasn’t in school and my simple response was, “He’s sick.” She needs to know nothing else.)
She also liked to point out, while smirking, that leaves would swirl around in the wind and often land on her yard, or how they would just be over there in general. Mrs. Kravitz suddenly labeled the leaves of the sweet gum tree “your leaves” and she would remind me every time she saw me with that same smirk and goofy slack-jawed expression when she first noticed them falling.
That was in 2004. Over the years, Mrs. Kravitz still went out of her way to tell me that my leaves were falling on her yard. It’s not like it was a total surprise since it happens each Fall and my God, the woman has lived here longer than the tree. But as 2004 turned into 2005, 2006, etc., the joke had definitely run its course.
I remember one time a few years ago. I had just pulled up in front of the house after a long day at work and before I could set foot on the ground, Mrs. Kravitz who was watering her grass told me, with that same smirk on her mug, that “your leaves” were on her yard.
“You have a rake, don’t you? Clean them up.” That was about all I said as I went into the house.
Other responses have been for her to call the city and have them cut the tree down, a simple shrug of my shoulders as I walked away (pretending I didn’t hear her), or just a smug look on my face and not a single word being spoken with the latter being after the tree had already been trimmed and the leaves no longer being in excess.
There’s only so far you can take a joke before it becomes as old and stale as the person telling it, and Mrs. Kravitz reached that milestone many years ago.
So Mrs. Kravitz, I don’t care where “my leaves” fall because that’s what they do this time of year. It’s property of the city so it’s not my concern since I didn’t plant the thing. They will fall where they will fall and pretty-up the landscape whether you like them or not.
And I don’t need to be reminded of them, tomorrow or ever again.
That joke isn’t funny anymore. Let it go, man. Just let it go.