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Leaf Me Alone

In New York City, when the leaves fall on the sidewalk, they’re swept up with brooms.  Brooms!

Early the morning after Thanksgiving, I woke to find my father raking leaves in the front of the house. Before I even ate breakfast, I bundled up, grabbed a rake and joined him.

For starters, let me give you a sense of my parents’ front and backyard. Even with ten guys, a blower, and a truck it can take hours to collect all the leaves. But that morning, with just the two of us, my dad had a plan.

“Divide and conquer,” he said. “We mark one section at a time and get that done. Then move on to the next.”

Using rakes, we defined a large area and worked to clear away those leaves. Filling garbage barrels, we piled leaves onto a tarp, dragged them to a far corner in the backyard and dumped them on top of last year’s heap, shrunk, but still high from past seasons. After a few hours, my hands already blistered, we admired our handiwork. Sure we’d only completed about one-twentieth of the leaves, but that one-twentieth looked pretty darn good.

Then we left the rakes and – with leaf particles in our hair and stuck to our clothes – we headed inside and sat in the kitchen eating my mother’s

homemade blueberry muffins and feeling extremely satisfied for a job well done. Sure the job wasn’t completed – there were thousands more leaves waiting to be gathered and removed – but we weren’t fazed. The task, while it appeared impossible and definitely intimidating, just took small steps. The same with any job – whether a messy apartment, packing up a house, cleaning out a garage, attacking a pile of homework – by just breaking it down, by dividing it into manageable parts, makes it doable.

So, until the snow falls…

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