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Thursday, December 8, 2022
ArlingtonOpinion'Old School' column: The deluge!

‘Old School’ column: The deluge!

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Yes, I know this has been a banner year for that wet stuff falling from the sky, but the deluge I’m talking about comes from closer to Earth.

Let’s talk fall.

Besides a short commute time, the main attraction for me, when we chose Arlington back in 1976, was the majestic tree canopy.

But my love affair began to fade that first September night we slept in our newly-acquired home. I was terrified as those same stately oaks I had admired bombarded our slate roof with acorns.


“Wake up!” I cried as I ungently jostled my sleeping husband. “There’s someone breaking into the house!”

The acorns weren’t only noisy, they were dangerous. For the few years I mowed the lawn, I worried about stepping on one and sliding under the mower on our steep front bank. Don’t even get me started on their potential damage to the mower.

One year I came up with the perfect solution. I bribed my 12-year-old daughter and her friend who lived across the street: a penny for each collected acorn. BIG MISTAKE. The girls collected for weeks, filling an old cooler each session and then counting them meticulously. For kids who couldn’t keep track of their allowances, those two kept records like Bob Cratchit with his accounting book.

At the end of this sorry exercise, I owed each girl $45. I have a photo of the triumphant duo, flanking the cooler with their last haul and holding a sign: “9,452.” Feeling magnanimous, they had rounded the number down for my paying convenience.

At that rate, I considered hiring myself out to the neighbors. I could see the ad, showcasing me as “Dog the Bounty Hunter of Acorns.”

And then, of course, there were the falling leaves, mentioned in the famous song. Our second Arlington home, blessedly devoid of oaks, held many towering tulip poplars, messier than Oscar Madison of “Odd Couple” fame.

They dropped blossoms all summer and began off-loading leaves in mid-July. I remember wading waist-deep in leaves as we raked and raked and raked some more.

In those days, Arlington County sent the leaf-vacuuming trucks through neighborhoods three times. All we had to do was get the leaves UPHILL to the curb. Easier said than done.

Yes, we could have hired people to blow the leaves to the street, but we Old School types are tight with a buck.

Meanwhile, I still love trees and fall, but from a distance of a thousand miles.

Reach Carol McEwen at carolwrites4fun@gmail.com.

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