Leaf me alone!


I swept “The Slab” today.  And the day before.  Also, the day before the day before.  And I don’t need to continue since you see the pattern.

First things first.  “The Slab”.  This is my loving appellation for the concrete square in front of my house (but behind a tall wooden fence).  If it was made of wood, it might be called a deck.  If it had a table and two chairs, it could be called a patio.  It has none of these characteristics.  It is merely, “The Slab”.

I am quite fond of “The Slab”, actually.  Prior to its coming into existence (during my big remodeling back in ’09), I just had pieces of concrete with loose rock between and “baby slab” for the A/C unit to rest on.  One day, I do plan on changing “The Slab” into a patio (little “p”, no definite article preceding) by placing a chair and table out there.  But not yet.

When “The Slab” was first poured, I had no concept of the leaf disaster that lay in wait.  For one thing, the patchy front area didn’t present itself as a solid mass, thus leaves that were naturally there were less conspicuous.  Secondly, this is Florida.  I grew up with fruit trees, pines and palms.  Pine needles, sure.  Palm fronds…pretty noticeable (and infrequent).  Leaves?  Nah.

Perhaps it was the new roof.  Perhaps it was a few more years of growth.  Who knows the cause, but “The Slab” became the hosting area of first dozens and then hundreds (thousands?) of oak leaves.

They didn’t blow out into the front yard (stopped by the fence, I suppose).  And, they didn’t fall into the back yard (height of the tree and the eastern (ocean) breezes, perhaps).  They flopped off the angled roof onto “The Slab”.

Even then, it would hardly be a problem but for the wonderful weathery world that is South Florida.  If we are forced to acknowledge the existence of four seasons, then Florida has a period where all four occur at once.  It gets cool (winter) and rainy (spring) and sunny (summer) and leafy (fall).  And it does all this in January and February.  Think of those films where they take a 24 hour period and speed it up into 30 seconds.  That’s Florida’s seasons.

Owing to my usual avoidance of any cleaning (bad enough I have to do inside the house…you want me to do outside, too?), the leaves began to grow and grow.  They would then get rained on.  They would then dry out.  Then more leaves would fall and the cycle would continue.  Cue the Elton John music.

One day, even I had enough.  Resolved:  Clean “The Slab”.

I swept.  And swept.  And…oh, we’ve been there and done that already, right?  Three 30-gallon bags later, I had all the leaves gone from my roughly 8′ x 6′ area.  What remained bore no resemblance to “The Slab”.  It might be better described as “The Stain”.  Yuck.

So, trusty hose with power nozzle and 2 gallons of bleach and a push broom and me all got together and spent a nice (hot) summer morning scrubbing away all the stains.  The sun then spent the better part of the day returning “The Slab” to its former pale gray glory (concrete is never really white).

Nowadays, I sweep “The Slab” free of leaves each day.  I brush the leaves across “The Slab”, out the gate and onto my walkway.  Then I sweep the leaves down the walkway and below the long hedge guarding my fence.  Thus, the leaves ultimately provide a natural and readily available mulch for my hedges and the circle of life continues.

Cue the Elton John music once more will you?

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