Blow this!

Raking leaves is my least favorite activity in the universe next to shoveling snow. I’m convinced that shoveling and raking, done the old-fashioned way, are a good way to bring on a heart attack. Even so, we don’t own a leaf blower. We do, however, own a snow blower. I used to stand at the end of my driveway, leaning pathetically on the shovel handle, coughing conspicuously, hoping a passing plow would stop and finish the job for me. Then we got a small, compact snow blower that never seemed to work right, particularly if the snow was too heavy or too high, which was always. A couple of years ago, a family friend downsized and gave us their considerably more macho machine and we were thrilled to be able to trade up.

Now, can we agree that snow is to snow blower as leaf is to leaf blower? If so, why are the former coveted, and the latter demonized?

Residents of my town have been squabbling for weeks now, about a mid-May through mid-October ban on gas leaf blowers, voted on by Town Meeting last spring. Apparently, Town Meeting does not always have the last word. If you disagree with a decision, as did a consortium of landscapers doing business in Arlington, all you need to do is collect a certain number of signatures and you can compel the town to hold a special election. The cost of running a special election, even with drastically reduced hours for the polls to be open, is reported to be between $25,000 and $30,000, which I imagine would buy the town all kinds of useful tools, if we had the money, which we don’t.

There is, however, a trick to a special election. The instigators can’t win, even if they have more votes, unless at least 20% of the registered voters in town vote the way they want them to, in this case, No. As it happens, the No votes missed the required number by the hair of their chinny chin chins. Yes, it was close.

The Attorney General now has up to 90 days to approve the change and, assuming they do, we wait another couple of weeks so the town can advise its citizens of the change through advertisements in the local paper. By then it could be mid-October, and the leaf blowers won’t have missed a day of blowing. And then, I expect the argument will begin all over again.

At first I was sympathetic to those who wanted to reverse the ban. Then I started watching landscapers more closely and discovered that leaf blowers are used to blow all kinds of things, including dirt, off driveways. Dirt. Off driveways.

You know why you don’t hear people complaining that they can’t use their snow blowers in August? It’s because snow blowers are really only good for one thing, blowing snow. I’m guessing we wouldn’t be having this discussion if leaf blowers were restricted to blowing leaves. But since they’re not, I have a plan.

If the people who want to be able to tidy up their property, year round, by blowing dirt, persist in trying to overturn this ban, I’m going to collect signatures for a special election so we can vote on whether or not to rename leaf blowers “everything-but-snow blowers.” If that passed, we’d at least all be arguing about the same thing, and the next time they tried to overturn the ban, the opposition would blow them away.

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8 responses to “Blow this!

  1. Pingback: Judy Mintz: Blow this! « NESCBWI Kidlit Reblogger

  2. Personally, I prefer shoveling and raking by hand because that produces much less noise pollution and a lot less air pollution, it’s cheaper (both to purchase and to operate the needed equipment), it’s more reliable, it provides better exercise, and it makes it more possible to chat with your neighbors while you’re doing it. I recognize that not everyone has the time or the muscle to do these jobs manually, and I’m looking forward to the day when all snow blowers and leaf blowers are electric, which will reduce the air pollution and noise pollution by quite a bit.

  3. “Now, can we agree that snow is to snow blower as leaf is to leaf blower?”

    Nope, a neighbor’s lawn company blows grass clippings, dirt, pollen, and who knows what else (lead, pesticides, feces … ) toward another neighbor’s house – being summer, they may want to have their windows open – now they have a house (and lungs) full of “dust”. Snow blowers only blow snow – sure they may catch the occasional rock, but they don’t fill the air with small hard to breathe particles – and windows are generally closed in the winter 🙂

  4. I am so sick of all this leaf blower stuff. This is clearly a case of a mountain was made of a molehill.

  5. HAS ANYONE HEARD OF SHUTTING YOUR WINDOWS
    Don’t you think that the government is in our business to much. When did it change and the minority is now the majority every one thats feelings get hurt my god lets change the laws.
    Now I am thinking of making up a partition that will ban radios in cars as the noise that comes from them shakes my house. It really bothers my ears why I have to sit beside or behind them on Lake St at 5pm. Not only is it offensive to my ears not to mention my brain but I also am sucking up the fumes as I wait for the bikers with the stop sign just cross without looking then yell at you .
    Will you vote along with me.
    I doubt it ,want to know why because IT IS STUPID that’s why.
    I am sure that you do not have anyone is your family that is lucky enough to have a job with a landscaper . I am sure that you would be back up the town hall complaining that your relative lost his job because some idiot doesn’t know how to close their windows for 10 minutes.
    In this economy why would you do that to someone. There are no jobs have you not read a news paper. That is a great job for a kid in school
    or a grown man that can not find a job,
    Did you also vote for the Mass Ave job. Because I would like to warn you not to drive on it while they are ruining it. The fumes from the construction trucks and traffic will be horrible. Just thinking maybe a coat of paint down the middle of Mass Ave would be a lot cheaper and not hurt all the businesses in East Arlington, its not like we are booming with business.

    I come from a different Arlington when we actually talked to each other.
    knew our neighbors, and didn’t try to destroy businesses. I think we are a little tougher than the newer people that have moved here, It is as if you don’t like something take the ball and go home, a bunch of whiners.
    I long for the old Arlington.
    Well had to get that off my chest because I think that having a vote on leaf blowers sucks and I think having a 2nd one sucked even more what a waste of money.

    Kathy
    I love my country but fear my government

  6. A friend of mine has a large parcel of land in NH. Picture using a helicopter to blow the leaves off his field…worked like a charm. Maybe Arlington needs a good dose of that to set them straight….

  7. Hey Judy – The Special Town Meeting to discuss this further is tomorrow night. Come and show your support to uphold the vote of Town Meeting for a restriction on use of gas powered leaf blowers. Thanks for the blog post!
    Carol Band

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