April 18, 2005

Maple trees and other matters

The seed pods are forming on the maple trees. These "helicopters" as some of us call them are a true bane to my existence. I began mowing my grandmothers yard when I was around nine. In those kinder times, I jumped on my red stingray and peddled the 1-1/2 miles via sidestreets and alleys to her house. I was always admonished to walk my bike across the one really busy street I had to transverse. Sometimes I obeyed.

Once at grandma's, I would help weed the numerous flower gardens, trim the edges and around the house (using the old "scissor-type trimmers. The electric and gas kind did not exist in those olden days) then clean up the mess and haul it to the trash pile near the alley. On a good day I would get to help my grandma burn the pile (again long ago). I would then mow the yard. If I did a good job and did not mow down any flowers, I would be paid three to five dollars. If I did not do any phase of the work to her satisfaction, I would not get paid. Sometimes my mom would have to call up grandma and remind her that I was just a kid, and she could not expect me to work all day without pay.

I really hated the first few times I mowed in the spring. Grandma was obsessed with the seed pods from maple trees. Each and EVERY one had to be raked up before I could mow. Have you ever tried to rake these helicopters? I could understand why I had to rake the leaves in the fall, but this insistence and hatred of maple seed pods continues to baffle me more than thirty-five years later. I think I will begin to insist that my boys rake the yard free of "helicopters" before we mow from now on. It will give them something to think about in the future:

"Hey, remember how Dad was so crazy about those helicopters everytime we mowed?"
"Remember how dad was so crazy about everything?"

Oh well, I guess I have to think up my own new ways to torture my kids. That particular idiosyncrasy will have to belong to my grandmother.

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