“Don’t you love fall foliage?” A friend of mine asked as we watched brilliant leaves of red, orange and gold waft down from the trees. “It’s such a beautiful time of year.”
I rolled my eyes. I had no patience for the leaf lovers, the autumn enthusiasts, the fall foliage fanatics. I had bigger fish to fry.
I was a woman with a house to clean.
Of course there was a time when I loved the change of seasons as much as anyone else. But now that I am a mother and a homemaker, I realize that the different seasons just mean different messes in the house. In the spring, the kids drag mud through the house. In the winter we have piles of slush. In the summer, they track in water from the pool. And now that fall is upon us, I can look forward to the melodic sound of leaves crunching under my feet in the family room.
I suppose I should be more understanding of this particular seasonal annoyance considering that it is a scientific anomaly. I have discovered that my house is uniquely situated in the center of the universe so that every time the back door opens, a giant wind tunnel is created which sucks all the leaves in from the deck and spits them into my house. It is such a rare occurrence in this part of the world, that scientists have actually named it the Beckerman Freak Foliage Phenomenon.
While we are pleased to have contributed to mankind’s understanding of the forces of nature, it is mostly just a big pain in the neck. If I don’t catch the leaves and sweep them up right away when they blow into the house, they get trampled and broken into millions of crunchy little leaf pieces that get into the rug and eventually all over the house until I crawl under the covers at night and find myself on a bed of shredded leaf. While this might be fun if you’re a contestant on Survivor, personally, I prefer my sheets to be cottony soft and decidedly leaf-free.
Clearly, this would not be an issue if the door remained closed. However, my children seem to be somewhat door-challenged. They have no problem getting the door open: It’s the door closing they have trouble with. And when the door is left open and that wind tunnel thing happens, we get leaf piles in the house big enough to jump in. It can get so bad, I actually consider getting a rake and a leaf blower to get it under control.
Finally one day, I hit my leaf breaking point.
“WHO LEFT THE DOOR OPEN???” I bellowed. The kids came running. When Crazy Leaf Lady calls, you come.
I pointed to the fresh pile of leaves that had blown in from outside.
“Remember I said when you leave the door open, the leaves blow in?” They nodded blankly. “So, from now on, whoever leaves the door open is going to have to clean up the leaves.”
“I get it,” said my youngest. “If you LEAVE the door open, you have to clean up the LEAVES!”
“YES!” They got it. I was thrilled. Ten minutes later I found the door open and a fresh pile of crunchy leaves in the family room.
“Congratulations,” I said to the guilty party. You get to clean up the leaves.” I handed him a broom and left the room.
Moments later a voice rang out from the kitchen.
I returned to the scene of the crime to find my son, the broom and three times as many leaves on the floor.
“What happened?” I asked incredulously.
“I went to sweep the leaves out, and when I opened the door, a big gust of wind blew all the leaves back in, plus a bunch more.”
I shook my head in disbelief. Then I took the broom and stuck it in the corner.
My son stood perplexed. “What should we do?” he asked.