The Difference Between Snow and Leaves

Snow Bench.jpg

We are digging out from yesterday's 14-inch spring snow storm. The weather people were right for a change; it arrived on time and in the predicted amounts. After a few years of paltry snowfall, this one is spectacular, even if a little late. We were inspired at first to offer our paean to snow. But from our perch in the kitchen, watching shovels, snow blowers, and helpful grandchildren materialize, something else seemed worth mentioning.

Most of us on Snob Hill emerged about the same time this morning, intent on clearing paths for our selves and the mailman. The municipality will not plow our street because we live on a what the others call a private drive. We do not, as a neighborhood, think of ourselves as private drive people. That's a slippery slope. Next we may become a gated community. So we pay a man and his truck and his plow to clear the street.

What struck us this morning is how we all helped one another. Mr. W from two houses down, brought out a snowblower that looked like he needed a license to operate it. He cleared his next door neighbor's circle drive, and the driveway of the two younger families across the street. One of us helped an elderly woman from across the street, and she reciprocated with some kitty litter to help us extricate the Jeep from a snow bank. We all made sure to place snow piles in convenient places.

Snow, in other words, is a unifying event. Not so with leaves.

Snob Hill is filled with mature trees whose leaves fall throughout the hill at the whim of each prevailing wind. The leaves are like one of nature's united nations, all mixed together. Yet, it is hard not to be resentful raking large sycamore leaves when one does not "own" a sycamore. We should only be responsible for the leaves that are indigenous to our own property. The operators of leaf blowers have been known to "return" leaves to their rightful owners when the rightful owners aren't home. Others have the philosophy that if they ignore the piles of leaves long enough, eventually they will blow next door or across the street.

Snob Hill leaves, in other words, are not unifying. They bring out our lesser angels.