I’m Starting to Think, ‘Leaf Me Alone!’
At some point the city fathers and mothers okayed the planting of trees up and down the length of Main Street (in this case, a distance of about ten or twelve blocks). They are regularly spaced, in diamond shaped holes in the sidewalk. The trees march up the middle of the block on each side, but they are not on the corners. This is good, because this means the view of traffic is not blocked by trees. Instead, on each corner are a triad of planters attractively arranged and each spring they are planted with petunias, exotic grasses and various summer plants. It looks lovely, and considering this is semi-desert with a varied amount of annual rainfall and a steady and annoying wind, they do quite well.
But why, I ask myself. Why locust trees? I know they are hardy, but what were they thinking? They have scores, hundreds, thousands, of those teeny little leaves, which have been turning yellow and falling down off the branches since before we opened our doors. I also happen to know they have roots that are tough and hard to suppress and can’t be removed without power tools, or, possibly, dynamite. The trees, I suspect, will be there until they grow too big for their little diamond plots, at which point I assume they will either strangle themselves to death or be removed with great difficulty.
Meanwhile, every morning I go outside with the push broom and de-leaf the sidewalk, shake out the mat, wipe down the window ledges and eliminate the insects, both dead and alive, from the vicinity of our door. When I am feeling the need for exercise I also sweep to the north, in the entryway and in front of the empty building, on the theory that if the wind is from the north, everything there is just going to end up in front of our bookshop anyway. Although, with a good wind, it will keep on going south and end up in Texas.
Anyway, there I am, outside, sweeping. Every time a semi-truck goes by, they pass within nine feet of the sidewalk. It’s two lanes each direction, so four of them can be passing at once, which creates a noise level higher than I ever imagined. I now know why the jewelry store owner who previously had this location had his work area and cashier’s desk at the other end of the shop! I am also pretty glad I didn’t manage to talk Susan into moving the work area up to the front, since not only would the noise come in every time someone opened the door, but it would be pretty drafty and cold in the winter. The way we have it now, customers have to go past most of the books to come pay, which in theory should increase the impulse sales.
At any rate, those trucks send gusts of dirt-laden air towards the sidewalk and windows, to the tune of about a quart of dirt and leaves a day. The tiny spiders who attempt to make little webs on the ledge of the windows soon give up, as the webs turn black and useless almost at once. The insects who have come to a bad end on the grills of the trucks begin to slide off as the trucks slow or stop for the train tracks, and the bodies come tumbling our direction, so there is usually some jumbled insect parts building up in the corners.
I noticed today that some of the trees across the street have curly, ten inch long poddy things which will probably also come down soon, adding color and texture to the dirt I sweep up. I bought a snow shovel the moment they went on sale, but the snow has held off for months. Just as well, because there are still some leaves to sweep up.