Another Perspective

Autumn Leaves

Smoke-free leaf removal leaves something to be desired.

By 12.13.12

Time was the Eastern Seaboard of the United States would disappear this time of year.

Palls of gray smoke enveloped the countryside as residents burned the tons of leaves produced by deciduous trees. Some packed them into compost heaps and in fact some still do, but most raked them into heaps in the street or roadway and set them aflame.

This was the habit at least until the EPA came into being in 1970 when communities began to hire leaf collectors who sucked up the piles and then deposited the material into civic areas, making at least a couple of rounds each fall. And it became unlawful to burn leaves in the street. This made work for the collectors, but unemployment for the thousands of youngsters who helped Dad with the raking and piling through the years.

True, the smoke was a trial for those allergic to it, but a treat for those who enjoyed the inhalation of the acrid air. It also meant the end of summer and the advent of snow time.

Aircraft travelers were astounded by the stuff that obscured the scenery below. It was, after all, Fall and there was no surer sign than this.

Sure, Fall comes anyway, I think, as I await the second coming of the leaf suckers.

But there was something symbolic about raking and burning, an acknowledgement that one season was leaving and another was on its way.



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About the Author

Reid Collins is a former CBS and CNN news correspondent.