Fire engines and apologies
by Regis Boff
I am a burner. In these times of ever-encroaching global climate catastrophe, we need to return to the age of autumn leaf burning. As a boy, I would watch transfixed as mammoth piles of gathered leaves flamed out of control in our neighborhood. Grown men, whimpering involuntarily, frantically tried to beat back the perimeter of their crazily windblown pyres with wooden rakes in pitiable attempts to slow the wildfires they had deliberately set. In my experience, nothing draws a community together like one neighbor burning down the house of another. Saturdays in our little community, many times turned into picnics with fire engines and apologies.
I live now, in the self-proclaimed epicenter of tree populations, at least on the Eastern seaboard. On any given day you might run across an Ent mumbling about never having heard about a Hobbit. The old autumnal dance of leaf cleansing is still a pastime but burning them is forbidden now. We are expected to buy special bags to put our leaves in, to be later carried away by our public municipal workers to some unverified town leaf gulag. I find the rules governing the gathering of my leaves daunting and just a little fear-provoking, and I suspect (knowing my neighbors reasonably well) that I am not alone. I am beginning to get the feeling that my government is turning me into a kind of environmental janitor. Trying to rid my property of leaves is a little like tropical fish in an aquarium trying to spit water out of their tank. I understand that there are enormous industries and political positions built around this leaf thing and more is required of us all, but I feel the unpleasant winds of dictatorial social conscience heading in my direction and I don’t play well with people who know what is best for me.
This is a civil quarrel that I am ready for. If global warming is a fact, then what better tactic to employ than a massive ring of leaf soot surrounding our planet, blocking out the sun, forcing our temperatures to nosedive? This is nifty and well rounded, as solutions go. Got a match?