In honor of the City of Sonoma’s leaf blower ban (specifically against gas-powered leaf blowers), here’s a reprise of the column from 2009 that was one among the many voices that got the, um, leaf blowing.
Living in Sonoma during this time of year is like living in a postcard. Not the “Wish you were here” variety, which, in most languages translates as “neener-neener-neener,” but the ones purchasable at the visitors bureau that depict our rural countryside, braided with vineyards in autumnal hues that would make every crayon in the box snap from sheer envy. Burnt umber? Ha! Take a slow northerly drive down Highway 12 and we’ll see your “burnt umber” and raise you some “toasted sienna,” “persimmon brandy” and “cinnabar blush” to boot.
And what sounds accompany Sonoma’s autumnal palette? The rustle of leaves, the wind’s whistle through branches bare? No, a damned leaf blower – its stentorian belch ripping the noonday breeze like a chainsaw through a Monet.
I hate them. In my opinion, no object better exemplifies the worst of civilization than the leaf blower. Even the most grievous machines of mechanized death humankind has inflicted upon itself pale compared to the cosmic insult with which leaf blowers slur humanity.
The guillotine and the electric chair at least do something. The leaf blower, by contrast, does only what its name implies – it blows leaves around. Sure, it seems harmless until one considers all the noise and air pollution and the use of fossil fuels – not to mention the money bled and blood spent in obtaining said fuel – and the leaf blower proves useful only as an instrument of amplifying our ability to waste and ruin.
I mean, what’s wrong with rakes and brooms? They’ve worked for millennia. What, are they, too Amish? One should note that the leaf blower began its repugnant life as an agricultural chemical sprayer. Evil begets evil.
From the second story of my office building, I watched some idiot blow leaves from the sidewalk into the gutter for the better part of an hour. Why would I waste my time watching him waste his? The spectacle of Western Civilization crumbling before my eyes must be studied and recorded so that future generations might learn from our folly.
I asked the guy to stop so I could, you know, think. He said he would, “when he was done.” His verbal jujitsu notwithstanding, I knew I had him beat on at least one point. Whereas I at least appeared to be wholly human, he had obviously turned cyborg. A symbiosis had occurred between man and machine, an ergonomic pas de deux that found the man with a roaring motor grafted to his back and an arm affixed with a plastic snout that exhaled his humanity into eddies of leaves and dust in a sustained bellicose, gaseous, thundering fart that signified the utter futility of man in the face of nature’s grandeur.
By now, of course, the man-borg has deafened himself from an inner-voice that once surely asked, “Has it come to this? Is this the purpose I’ve found for my life – inefficiently blowing leaves into a gutter with a reverse-vacuum cleaner strapped to my back?”
The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind but it isn’t blowing leaves around. This is what you should do with your leaf blower – liberate yourself from the machine, damage it irreparably, then use it as the basis for a homemade Boba Fett costume. I’ve seen this done before and it’s awesome. Of course, to the leaf blower’s acolytes, this is all just a bunch of hot air, to which I reply, blow me.