The garden has been weeded and cut back.
Some stray flora has been dug out and disposed of. The patio furniture has been
stored as the salt, snow shovels and ice chipper have come out of hibernation.
The lawn, still green, is raked and pristine until a gentle breeze and its rain
of floating, drifting leaves serves as a reminder of the myth of Sisyphus and
the futility of it all.
You eye your neighbours’ trees and they eye
yours and both of you eyeball the property line and the tinderbox is
smouldering, maybe one midnight Rolling Stones noise complaint away from a feud
fueled by the fall. Communication is reduced to a grunt accompanied by a
squint. There’s so much testosterone in the neighbourhood even as everything
else is wilting. And if the bastard has a leaf blower, well, it means war but
maybe you glean a moment’s insight into the world’s most messed up places, the
Middle East, Capitol Hill or any poor, post-colonial country run by an
‘elected’ dictator: the silliness and insanity of everything everywhere else. A
few stray orange and yellow leaves don’t amount to much more than an extra yard
Chances are both you and the bastard with
the leaf blower are wearing caps and sweatshirts. Chances are they’ve all got
logos on them. Chances are they’re all sports related merchandise. Chances are
both you and the bastard with the leaf blower follow the same league’s
schedule. Perhaps you’re even part of the same tribe, some team’s fan nation in
which you’re the seventh, tenth, 12th or 13th man -
similar to a character in a Graham Greene story but not fogged in by a dreadful
shroud of moral ambivalence.
Weather talk is an easy connection with a
stranger or neighbour, after all winter’s coming, it’s October. No one gets
excited about the prospect of freezing in the dark, but consider sports at the
moment: soccer is being played all over the world, basketball is starting up,
the two pro football leagues on this continent are going full bore as are university
squads in both Canada and the United States, baseball is moving closer to the
World Series, hockey’s back and the scores matter on so many levels, somewhere
there’s car racing and golf, maybe figure skating too – and it’s all on hi-def
television and it’s virtually impossible for feuding neighbours not to drop
their rakes and leaf blowers and commune over lesser and more entertaining
October! Sports! Thanksgiving!
Somewhere a long way from the mostly
leafless front lawns on this street, a TV network executive, an advertiser, an
advertising account director and a media buyer are giving thanks this October
for sports broadcasting. In the here and now, games are the last real time
events left alive in this the Digital Age.
And later, neighbours lean on their rakes and
turn off their blowers to ask each other, ‘Did you see that play!?’