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WOSTER: Wishing the neighbors would 'leaf' me alone

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opinion Mitchell, 57301
Mitchell South Dakota 120 South Lawler 57301

Terry Woster, Daily Republic Columnist  Last fall when I raked leaves, I had one new shoulder and one old one and the raking wouldn’t have been half painful if I’d been able to use just one arm and the one good shoulder.

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Unfortunately, raking leaves the old-fashioned way is a two-handed job, so the left shoulder was giving me some fits. I guess that made it “half” painful.

One shoulder was a year old and didn’t bother a bit. The other was 68 years old, and maybe I wore it out back when I was the youngest field hand on the Woster Brothers’ farm enterprise and always got stuck with a pitchfork or a grain scoop while the other, older guys ran the mechanical equipment.

Well, this year, one shoulder is in its second year, the other is going on seven months old, and when I raked leaves off and on most of the past weekend, it was pretty much pain-free. Oh, sure, a lot of me hurt late in the evening and early in the morning, but that was muscles, not actual joints. And if a guy can rake leaves on a pleasant weekend afternoon in November without focusing on the physical pain, he can put the task on auto-pilot and think deep thoughts.

For quite a long while, what I thought was: Why am I still raking leaves when all the trees on my property dropped their personal leaves early last month? After 41 autumns in the same house, I kind of know what sorts of leaves grow on my trees. At this point, it’s either ash or locust.

The guy who planted the ash trees about 15 years ago told me that’s what he was planting. The guy who trims my trees every few years told me the two old, thick and tall trees on the west boulevard are locusts. I take his word for this. They were here long before I was.

The thing is, I know my leaves and they know me. And what I spent last weekend raking were somebody else’s leaves. Which set me to thinking: If the neighbor kids next door are playing ball and their ball rolls onto my lawn, it doesn’t automatically become mine, does it? If a motorist rounds the corner at Capitol and Washington a little too fast and jumps the curb to land on my boulevard, the car doesn’t become mine, does it?

Of course not. It’s ridiculous to even think that. The neighbor kids would come and get their ball out of my yard. The motorist would back away from my property or call a tow truck to haul the vehicle away.

So, why are these leaves that blow onto my property my problem?

I used to wonder that when Bill Janklow was governor and the northwest breezes in the fall would carry the leaves from the trees on the mansion grounds across the street to my yard. I mentioned the issue to him once, in fact. He said he could send a crew over to help with my raking, but that wouldn’t look so good for either of us. I had to agree, so I had to keep raking. But if the leaves are my problem, why can’t I keep the ball or the vehicle, too?

I finished raking mid-afternoon on Sunday and went into the house to talk about that issue with Nancy. She had the Broncos game on. I’m a Bears fan, but I don’t mind watching the Broncos. She’s not a fan of football at all, but several granddaughters like the Broncos, and so do our younger son and his wife. So, she’s indifferent to football but roots for and watches the Broncos.

Before I could begin talking legal issues surrounding ownership of falling leaves, the Broncos ran a play right into the center of the defensive line, which seemed to have about nine defenders in the space of a hall closet. No gain.

“Why do they run into the middle of all those players when they could just go out and around them?” Nancy asked.

I forgot about leaves and wondered if we should call the Broncos’ offensive coordinator.

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