That leaf blower may be the No. 1 reason I'm utterly happy and satisfied in my golden years, able to enjoy even the darkest and rainiest days

First of all, let me state for the record that I never wanted a leaf blower. The other person who lives at our house made me get one.

It was several years ago, in fact, that she spotted one on sale in Home Depot's newspaper ad. FILE PHOTO - Mikel Kelly

"I think you should run down and get this Toro leaf blower that's on sale," she said.

"Leaf blower?" I snorted with Lord Grantham-style disdain, as if someone had suggested I install another modern invention in the sacred halls of Downton Abbey — you know, such as a teletype machine or a "magic fingers" bed vibrator like they have in your finer motels.

"But I don't WANT a leaf blower," I whined, losing almost all of my aristocratic pomposity. "They're noisy and obnoxious, and I do not want to spend my days trying to start one of those cranky gas motors."

This was my ace in the hole, and I felt good about it. Ever since spending my childhood and young adult years yanking the cords of lawnmowers, trimmers and power saws — very often to no avail — I'd managed to arm myself with electrical versions of all these devices. And, like a seasoned defense attorney, I rested my case.

"This one IS electric," said TOPWLAOH. I winced at being so easily outplayed and gave up. I resigned myself to go check it out.

After a good 20 minutes of in-store box reading and comparing various models, I bought the bright red power tool and 100 feet of electrical cord.

As soon as I got it home, I plugged in the device and began blowing big-leaf maple leaves the size of dinner plates around the yard with ease, even though they were wet and gloppy. My new motorized friend also handled the tiniest fir needles (of which I have several trees' worth), one of the most difficult things to manage with a broom or even a garden hose with the sprayer set on "jet."

This particular model also came with a large "vacuum" attachment which, when mounted on the intake portion of the blower, works as a leaf sucker. Unfortunately, the sucking function of the tool kind of sucked, so I decided right away I wouldn't be needing that — or the leaf bag that fills up in about a minute and a half. Nope, I concluded, for me it's gonna be all about the blowing.

I've been blowing stuff away from the driveway, sidewalks, lawn and flower beds ever since.

As a matter of fact, I wore out that first model after only a few short years and had to run back to the store for another one. So far, that one is still going strong.

I've had it up on the roof to blow debris and even gutter sludge away. I've used it to blow dust and debris out of the garage. If I could, I'd use it in the house, as a pre-vacuum and dusting operation — but the other person who lives at our house won't let me do that.

Oh, sure, it's a pretty noisy appliance. It has a medium- to high-pitch whine that doesn't quite match the deafening roar of a gas-powered blower (a familiar sound, because my neighbor employs a landscape service that sends a couple of those guys around their house with the things strapped to their backs; they sound a lot like my dad's old McCullough power saws with which he used to make his living as a timber faller in the 1950s and '60s).

Still, I do like to plop a set of those big fat ear protectors over my head to drown out the noise, and thus girded for battle I can spend an hour or more in heavenly bliss, herding every little bit of unwanted debris out of my life.

That leaf blower may be the No. 1 reason I'm utterly happy and satisfied in my golden years, able to enjoy even the darkest and rainiest days — which, you might not realize, we've had entirely too many of this winter and spring.

I should also add that ALL of the credit for my newfound attitude should go to the other person who lives at our house, not me.

So, if you are having trouble finding happiness and balance in your life, I suggest you do what I did. Get a leaf blower — and learn to appreciate what you have, even if it isn't that much.

Mikel Kelly retired from the newspaper business a little more than a year and a half ago. It has only been in that amount of time that he has found peace and joy.

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