THE FALL FOLIAGE FALLOUT

We often refer to autumn as “the fall”. That’s probably because tons of leaves suddenly decide to drop out of the trees in this season. This is one law of nature that should be repealed. It would be much more efficient if all those colorful leaves went into hibernation in November and hung on until next spring when they’d turn green again. We’ve got to figure a way to reduce the headaches and backaches of the fall foliage fallout.

Mankind has been working on the problem for centuries. A long time ago, probably during the Bronze Age, an overworked leaf remover, exhausted from dealing with one handful at a time, imagined an enlarged version of his hand with five times as many fingers and invented the rake. This ingenious tool significantly increased the leisure time of the working man which he could then devote to the arts, science and the waging of war against his neighbors.

Since then, other devices promising leaf relief have become available. The rotating lawn sweeper, the lawn vacuum and the mulching mower have been partially successful but a great deal of human muscle power is still required. Then of course there is the notorious leaf blower whose high- pitched screeching has ruined entire afternoons for porch dwellers and hammock snoozers.

What about folivores, the leaf eating insects and animals that might be able to take over the job completely? Their diet usually consists of live leaves but maybe recently deceased leaves could be made more appetizing with a sprinkling of sugar or a spray of honey mustard salad dressing.

The job would require a high-capacity folivore and one qualified contender would be the South American howling monkey. Ah, but there’s the rub. The howling monkey’s mating call can be heard three miles away, which makes it much louder than a leaf blower. But our monkey cousins are quite intelligent and trainable. Perhaps we could eliminate the primeval mating calls by teaching them to use cell phones.

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