The Glory Has Departed


Norma Boeckler, Artist-in-Residence

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Thursday, December 11, 2014

Raking the Leaves in the Olden Days.
Wreaths of Leaves Are Free Mulch around Bushes and Trees

Robin, by Norma Boeckler
In Moline we had an enormous maple that overwhelmed several yards, shading our backyard, shedding an endless amount of autumn leaves and fallen branches. My parents had the base patched with cement. Later, another owner had most of the tree cut down, except for its massive trunk and main branches. He probably saw the estimate for a complete removal and blanched. Besides, an enormous old snag would be great for the wildlife, homes and food for many.

We were told to rake the leaves and burn them in the street, which everyone did in the 1950s. A relative in farming gave us many large jars of their homegrown popcorn, and we acquired wire baskets for cooking it. We set a few baskets on fire, but we had great motivation for raking, not to mention helpers who wanted fresh popcorn. "Ken, if you help us rake, you can have all the popcorn you want." Ken, "Can I help cook it?" We said, "Sure, it's the best part, except eating it."

Now the fallen leaves accumulate in the street, against the curb, with no one even imaging a fire or coveting the sweet aroma of smoking and burning leaves. We rode our bikes through burning leaves, too, just to see how daring we could be.

I was looking at our curb leaves and our lawn bereft of leaves, thanks to the mower-mulcher. So I raked leaves up from the curb to create a wreath of packed, wet leaves under the crep myrtle bush. I already had a little teepee of leaves there, but I am thinking about tender bulbs or another floral decoration surrounding that bush in the spring. In the spring there will be a large area of soft, grass-free soil to use.

More free mulch
If ambition and time allow, I will move more curb leaves to the perimeter or drip line of the maple tree. Our helper may be looking for one more job in the yard.

I like the characteristics of late autumn leaves. By this time they are under the snow or packed in the street. Glued together by moisture and the initial rotting process, leaves are easy to pick up in large masses. Putting them down where I want to plant, I get several months of soil fertilization from the workers who stay on the job if they get a wet roof over their heads and high carbon food to eat.

Spiritual Gifts
One fad among the Church Shrinkers was a Spiritual Gifts Inventory. They claimed that a congregation would grow if everyone did a Spiritual Gifts Inventory. They had books, programs, and packets for this.

Instead of trusting the Word to make these matters manifest, they turned Gospel Promises into a marketing device they can sell to the gullible. I doubt whether these programs have the same zeal they once did; other fads have moved in.

In contrast, when I mulch a plant, a spider casts a net across the material, knowing that food will be served 24/7, unlike the pickings on bare soil. I know grasshoppers have the Creation Gift of eating large quantifies of leaves, but I do not worry. The birds I attract love grasshoppers and consume them with gratitude toward their Creator and affection toward me. The birds have taught me to feed them regularly with sunflower seeds, berries, and leftover bread.

"You have bugs to eat?
Let us prey."