I was sweeping the garage the other day. I do it often this time of year, as the tiny leaves from the locust tree in front find it easy to drift in with the cars.
It’s an old fashioned “flat broom” I use, and the sound it makes as it brushes the smooth concrete floor of the garage is sweet and soothing. It’s a sound that feels like it’s at home with the house finches on the feeders out front, and the soft wind that eases through the standing grasses in the front garden.
There’s a comforting rhythm that comes with the task of sweeping. The easy brushing, side to side, left to right. It’s a rhythm I can easily become lost in, and often do. Usually, when I finish sweeping the garage, I keep on sweeping right down the driveway – in part to move the leaves further away from the garage, but also because I’m enjoying the sound and the rhythm, and don’t want it to end.
When I was finished sweeping the garage, (and the driveway…), I decided to take the dog for a walk. I was feeling content and contemplative, and a walk sounded good.
I was only a block away from the house when I heard the screaming of a leaf blower in the block ahead, getting louder with each step. My old dog is nearly deaf, so I don’t think she heard it, but it was more than a little annoying to me. By the time I passed the fella who was running the leaf blower, the sound drowned out any other sound in the neighborhood.
I watched him as I passed, as he herded the leaves out of his garage, down the driveway, and into the street. He wasn’t smiling. He had the sort of grimace we all wear on our face when we’re tolerating loud noises we wish would go away. Of course, the grimace could have been due in part to the reek of the exhaust from the oily little two-stroke motor that was doing all the screaming.
Eventually, we escaped the sound. The bright songs of birds and the soft whisper of the wind in the branches drifted back around us. The crisp smell of autumn leaves and grass replaced the oily smell of the blower.
Back at home, I went back into the garage, picked up my broom, and went out to find something else to sweep.