Somewhere around leaf bag number 30, I hit the wall. The novelty of tending to my very own yard had worn off. My wife and I had just closed on our first home a few hours prior, and I found myself waist-deep in an ever-expanding sea of black contractor bags, brimming with leaves.
I enjoy a good story, especially a mystery. If our new home has a story -- especially the yard -- it is a story of neglect. The tale remains largely a mystery to me. As I've worked to bring the yard in line, I've found a few clues: the mangled shower curtain rod hidden beneath a mountain of soggy leaves in the hedges, the half-used container of lawn mower oil discarded next to the front walk, empty cans of cat food sunken into the grass like landmines, and about two autumns' worth of leaves blanketing every surface and snared in the tangled lower branches of hedges.
Each discovery came with a twinge of sorrow and a feeling that our house deserves better. I leaned the rake against my shoulder and opened and closed my hands, feeling the raw flesh of my palms scrape against the inside of my gloves. I asked myself then, if I had choice, would I have it any other way?
There were more bags to fill, and it was getting dark.