Monday, November 16, 2015

Raking and Burning Leaves

Every fall in Seward, one of the family duties was to rake leaves.

Raking leaves at your own family's house was boring and unpaid, but one exciting reward was to watch and smell the leaves burning.

The smell of burning leaves was a familiar pleasure back in those years. I almost have forgotten the smell, though, because the burning of leaves is illegal in all the places where I've lived since I left Seward.

You wanna hear something funny, Daddy?
Grandma said they used to just burn their
leaves instead of puttin' them in trash bags.
Raking leaves for other families was a good way to earn some money. I used to rake the leaves for the Bickels -- an elderly couple -- every year, and I would earn a whole $5 for about five hours of work. Because I earned so much money, such a day of raking was very happy for me, even though I got a lot of blisters on my hands. My Dad was able to arrange this job for me, because our Sylwester family was related to the Bickel family.

I never got to set the leaves on fire. Only the big kids or adults did that. I remember vaguely that some gasoline was poured all over the leaves, and then a lit match was thrown onto the pile. While the leaves burned, we kids would use big sticks to stir the leaves, to keep the fire going.

Burning a pile of leaves was a good occasion to roast and eat marshmallows.

Here's a photograph of some teenage boy proudly enjoying the burning of a small pile of leaves in his back yard.

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