html xmlns="" xml:lang="en" lang="en"> From the archives: By raking, I mean leaf blowers. Except for me, 'cause I actually rake with a rake.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

By raking, I mean leaf blowers. Except for me, 'cause I actually rake with a rake.

It is raking season here in Sacramento. The elms and sycamores that hold hands over our streets start rustling around in October; by November they’ve loosened up enough to shed those itchy leaves. Leaves cover lawns and sidewalks deep enough to form drifts. If you rake in the morning, when you come home from work your lawn will be entirely covered again. My long time readers already know that I cap off a year of not mowing my lawn by not raking my leaves, but I do try to keep the sidewalks clear.

The people who do rake, however, get the benefit of one of my favorite things about Sacramento. Sacramento has no greenwaste containers; instead you can put any amount of greenwaste out in piles on the street. Just like that, huge piles. This time of year, you’ll see piles four feet deep and ten feet long of leaves. On your trash pick-up day, two guys come along, one driving a truck to hold the green waste and the other driving The Claw, which scoops the pile up and puts it in the truck. The Claw drivers are deft; I’ve seen them get awkward piles with branches and stuff out from under cars with no problems. If you happen to be riding your bike on Freeport Boulevard at six in the morning, you’ll see a line of Claws leaving the yard, orange lights shining in the fog. Love ‘em.

I love that you can just put your greenwaste out on the street. I took advantage of that just last week. I hired a friend to dig out the front two islands between my sidewalk and the street and build long beds*. He probably put a couple cubic yards of roots and grass out on the street. I think they’re not supposed to pick up straight dirt, but I know the guys who drive the Claw and truck for my street, having waved at them several times. They would pick up my dirt, for sure. Saved me the expense of a dumpster.

My love for Sacramento’s pile pick-up puts me in conflict with Sacramento’s bicycling advocacy community, whom I would otherwise agree with all the time about everything. And, truth told, now that I’m biking through dark, wet streets with my hands in my pockets to keep them warm, I am becoming less fond of large, barely visible obstacles. Much as I hate to disagree with the bike crew, I’ll hold out for a little longer before joining the anti-pile crowd. I just love the Claws and piles of leaves bigger than cars that much.

*I’m thinking rudbeckia, Shasta daisies, geums, bat-faced cuphea, coreopsis, lavenders, salvias, and sages. What am I missing? Has to be lower than three feet tall, not thirsty and I prefer cutting flowers. I have lots of space.

Oh yeah! White japanese anemones, too.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You know, it doesn't actually get cold in Sacramento.

But, you can buy biking gloves to keep your hands warm while you ride.

Or, you can buy normal gloves that have a liner you can wear alone, with a warmer shell you can put on for snow activities.


3:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And, these 2 statements seem to be in direct contradiction of one another.

"By raking, I mean leaf blowers. Except for me, 'cause I actually rake with a rake."

"My long time readers already know that I cap off a year of not mowing my lawn by not raking my leaves"

Doesn't the not raking the leaves kill the lawn? If your lawn died you'd never have to worry about mowing it again.


3:44 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

Justin, hon, why would you send me a national website for the weather, when I have a link to the very weather station that the national weather system uses to collect data right on my sidebar?

Honestly, do you people never click on the CDEC website when you come to FTA, so that you can know the exact temperature I'm experiencing as you read my post?

The best is when one of the Engineering Girl Gang sends out an invitation to lunch, and the three of us simultaneously click over to CDEC to decide whether it is too cold to eat in the park.

AND, it is supposed to be below freezing tonight, which is too cold. I have gloves, and it might be time to get them out.

3:48 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

I rake the sidewalk with a real rake. I pile the leaves on the former lawn and call it mulch. The lawn doesn't die, though

3:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Plant some pine trees, they'll kill the lawn.

And, it's not cold until the temp goes below 0F. The lakes won't even freeze at 30, how are you going to go ice skating?

I think I may be headed out to Lassen in a couple of weeks to camp up around 7000', and do some hiking. I'm hoping the temps will be in the teens, with lots of snow. But, that's looking unlikely.


3:56 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

California poppies aren't but they don't look good all year. Still, I can put some seed down for this spring.

4:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This blog post has been nominated for inclusion in The Blog Watch article published Sundays in The Sacramento Bee's Forum section. As part of a demonstration program, readers are invited to help rate the candidate blog posts. The highest-rated posts will get top consideration for the limited space available Sunday. To participate, visit Voting ends Thursday afternoon.

5:54 PM  
Blogger Sheila Tone said...

I remember those wet dirty piles. Hard on bicyclists, hard on people trying to park cars. They didn't always seem to get removed right away, either.

And how about those weird little curved curbs that were so easy to just roll or slide off of? Never seen those anywhere else.

6:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmm, this is a hard one for me. I really hate the "on a mission from god" bicycle advocate people, but I really, really hate people who dump things in the street expecting others to clean up after them. I guess I'll solve this by avoiding Sacramento.

7:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Then there's the leaf-removal method that an increasing number of people here on Long Island are using: hire some Mexicans to do the work.

Iron Rails & Iron Weights

7:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't believe in raking, either; a moral stance that is completely unrelated to the fact that my push reel mower doesn't have a catch bag. Luckily, the University of Colorado agriculture department -- who put out a ton of free information for growing things in a high altitude desert climate -- agree with me.

spungen: the curved curbs are pretty prevalent in most of suburbia. At least in Colorado's suburbias.

8:08 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

Mike Jenkins:
Dumping stuff in the street, expecting others to clean up after you is entirely appropriate here. That is our greenwaste pickup is set up.

Hiring a gardener is a common method here, too. It won't be on my agenda any time soon. Why specify country of origin?

9:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great light in the fog. Inspired me to write my own samll piece. Thanks.

12:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Comments and questions:

1) How I detest leaf blowers. Less effective than raking, not any easier than raking, and noisy and gas-guzzling in addition. I must really be missing something.

2) I've been wondering how similar the Engineering Girl Gang is to a Prison Girl Gang? Please tell me very close.

5:49 AM  
Blogger amanda bee said...

Justin, what is up with $125 gloves?

I know I am sort of a scrounge, but I am still wearing the gloveliners I scooped up (and washed) after the marathon passed by my house. Soon, it will be time to break out the $15 heavy duty fleece lined work gloves that I bought by waving my reddened hands around in the hardware store demonstratively in between blowing on them. One guy nodded with a knowing and conspiratorial smile and got down a pair of $3 brown cotton gloves for me. His partner looked at him like he was a known lunatic, rolled his eyes, got up on his ladder and got down the fleece lined gloves. By then I actually had enough dexterity in my numb fingers to pry open my wallet.

7:23 AM  
Blogger Megan said...

Well, the Engineering Girl Gang does bully the biologists when we seem them in the halls. And in the summer, after swimming, we all shower together. So I would say we're just like a prison gang.

8:21 AM  
Blogger Uneasy Rhetoric said...

I'm guess that even if the city does start using green waste containers, there will be some kind of exception during the fall. Not that containers will be any better. People put their trash cans right in bicycles' paths too.

8:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Those are excellent gloves. Abrasion resistant palm, so you can rappel and belay with them, or if you're skiing, use a tow rope, or just slide down a hill on your face using your hands to try to stop yourself.

They've got a liner that's easy to get in and out (not a common thing in my experience). So you can pull the liner out at night and dry your gloves for the next day's use.

And, they've even got a nice soft place on them to wipe your nose so you don't have to take off your gloves to deal with that.

Gore-tex so they will breathe and not just trap all of the moisture coming off your hands inside the gloves.

Really, good gloves are important, if it's actually cold outside. My hands are the first part of my body to get painfully cold. Gloves and boots always tend to trap a lot of moisture, there's no where for it to go. And, if you're actually doing something active outside you can't just shove your hands in your pockets.

Oh, and never wear cotton to keep warm. Cotton soaks up moisture, and never dries. A common saying amongst outdoors people is, "Cotton kills."


10:33 AM  
Blogger Megan said...

We make fun of "Cotton kills" all the time. SomeGuy on all my old Ultimate teams, who isn't even all that and whom I barely even think about or flirt with, and it was total coincidence that I sat next to him at the bar so I could hear all his answers to my sex questions even though I knew them from last time, he'll walk up to me in a cotton shirt and be all "That shit'll kill you, man.". And then we laugh and laugh, because he is soooo funny and handsome.

11:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it does too get cold in Sacramento. Always colder than I think it gets. And, of course, nothing brings on a cold snap like the California International Marathon - woowee, nothing like running in the frozen morning air.

12:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's true though. Cotton is a horrible material if you're active, and outside.

Chances are you can get away with it for things like skiing and whatnot, since you change clothes every day, and it's not that cold to begin with, etc....

But, in cases where you have 1 pair of clothes for a week, and you're active, and it's cold, you can't have clothes that get wet and stay wet. In fact, everything becomes a big hassle. You want to stay warm, but not to the point where you're sweating, and you need to be really careful about your feet and hands, since the things covering them won't breathe as well as your jacket or snow pants. It's easy to overheat your feet, sweat, then freeze. Blah blah blah.


1:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Chances are you can get away with it for things like skiing and whatnot, since you change clothes every day, and it's not that cold to begin with, etc...."

More relevantly, if you're at a resort and get cold there's a lodge around somewhere. With brandy.

8:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I suppose the concept of what is cold really is relative to the situation or person. 40F or 35F maybe comfortable, but going 70 mph on the interstate on a motorcycle wearing the mesh jacket because you live in Louisiana and it doesn't get cold in the south according to popular opinion, so you didn't feel it was necissary get the textile one as well. Yes that's cold. How do I know it's cold? Because my body's homeostasis mechanims are saying "F-you! It's F-ing Cold!" And no the lakes weren't frozen over, and no they don't have to be frozen over for it to be f-ing cold

9:57 AM  

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