by Marlene Berlin
I stood looking out at my front walk, which was coated with yet another surge of droppings from my tulip poplar, a tree that is usually dropping something. It had been a week since my gardener had used the blower to dispense of the debris.
I considered my choices: to leave it for the next time the gardener came, or get out the broom, that almost forgotten, unused implement, and sweep. Memories bubbled up of my mother’s sweeping our front walk at 29 North Brown Street in my hometown of Lewistown, Pennsylvania. And when she and my father would visit us in Forest Hills, she often would get out our broom to clean our front walkway.
Yes, we live without a blower. Once my husband retired from yard work, I tried it and found it too cumbersome and noisy. So I gave it away. My next-door neighbor offered me the use of her blower when she saw me sweeping soon after its departure. I graciously declined. We then debated the pros and cons of each of our implements and remained unconvinced of the other’s position.
I decided to go get the broom, the same one that my mother had used – a rather worn broom made from broomcorn. With that I swept the steps. For sidewalk, I used a larger “professional” broom with a wide but narrow swath of bristles that you push. The job does not come out as perfectly as with a blower, but you can actually hear yourself think, listen to the birds prattle, or enjoy a book on tape.
It took me ten minutes to complete the task. It would have taken longer if I were a perfectionist.
Those who are wearied by the incessant whine of blowers, please join me in lowering the decibels in our neighborhood by getting out your rakes and those forgotten brooms. I would be happy to have some company.