Now that we are entering the season of Autumn I think back on my childhood to the days when I spent more than one weekend in a row raking leaves. Now I grew up in a little town on the south shore of Long Island. Depending upon which way you were driving you would miss it if you blinked. And actually no matter which way you drove through it you would miss it if you blinked. The name of the town was West Islip. Not too far from Amityville and this house…
We’ve had our share of famous people from West Islip. The list includes: Mario Puzo (the guy who wrote The Godfather), Al Oerter (4-time Olympic Gold Medalist in the Discus), Tom Downey (congressman) and Rick Lazio (Congressman). The name Don Schmidt does not appear among them and that’s fine with me. But I digress from the main drift of the story…
When my parents moved to West Islip my father was big on privacy. He planned out the entire yard on how he would insert trees, bushes and flowers. He actually planted two rows of evergreens that we used as Christmas trees for about 10 years in a row. The bane of my existence as a child though, were the Maple trees that he planted on the extreme edge of the northern part of our property. This would be on the side of the house that bordered on N. Monroe Ave.
Now before I get into the entire story about the leaves and the Maple trees I want to talk a little bit about the streets in my neighborhood. The streets were all named for presidents. There was Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, Washington, and then there was the street that I lived on. The street I grew up on and spent 30 years living on was named Dunwoodie. I could never understand how all the streets were named for presidents and we lived on Dunwoodie. Who was this Dunwoodie and why was he given such a great place with the rest of the presidential crowd? I never got an answer to this question but for 33 years 100 Dunwoodie in West Islip was my home. For roughly the first 20 years I spent a good deal of my time cleaning up those damn Maple leaves from the side of the house.
It would start in late September. I would always try to figure out if I could mulch all the leaves and not have to bag them. This was folly. The amount of leaves from a Maple tree cannot be shredded into a tiny pile. These were towering Maple trees. They were 40-60 feet tall, and I continually cleaned up the leaves. While all my friends did other things on their weekends, I raked and bagged leaves. As I got older, friends would go and play golf as a foursome, and I raked the leaves on the side of my house. I’m not saying this was bad I’m just saying that a chainsaw would’ve made everything that much more pleasant. (only kidding!)
Those Maple trees though, they gave shade in the summertime and they also gave a funny Pinocchio nose if you could split the leaves just right. Those Maple trees were my tree fort, they helped me keep watch for alien invaders and enemies who were going to attempt to attack my Fortress of Solitude at 100 Dunwoodie.
Yes those Maple trees were the bane of my existence as a youth, but I remember them and I miss them and I know that they helped instill some character in my person that can never be duplicated or replaced by any other event.
Thank you Maple trees… you did your job well.
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