Afterthoughts: The Revenge is Blowin’ in the Wind

Has an avenging superhero ever come to your defense?

Photo: Linny Morris

Every Saturday, it starts by 7:30 a.m. Up to two hours later, it can still be going strong, droning on like a giant winged creature. It’s not a locust, it’s a more modern plague: The dreaded leaf blower.

Forget enjoying a cup of coffee on the lanai. Forget having the window open to an ocean breeze. Nope, my neighbor, Harris United Church, has to have a leaf-free parking lot, by god. And since you don’t cause a ruckus on the Sabbath, this meticulous maintenance happens on Saturdays. Saturday mornings, when most of us would relish sleeping or relaxing in peace. To be fair, it probably doesn’t bother all of the neighbors—just the ones who are not deaf or in a coma.

I don’t begrudge the church the right to a well-maintained property. I do, however, wonder why it needs to host an extravaganza of engines on its verdant acreage—playground, walkways, parking lot, lawns—every single week.

To me, leaf blowers trumpet the sound of self-centeredness. They consume a limited resource (fossil fuel), when other tools, such as rakes and brooms, could do the job just as effectively and far more quietly. Leaf blowers billow dirt and pollen into the air, triggering asthma, allergies and other respiratory woes, a reason some cities have banned them outright.

Illustration: Jing Jing Tsong


And then there’s the very notion that a parking lot needs to be spotless, anyway. Are people eating soup off the asphalt? Rolling around nude? If so, by all means, let’s keep it hygienic.

I tried sending the pastor a nice note asking him to please consider leaf-blowing at a more civilized time of day, and when nothing changed, let the matter drop. When I came across a pile of leaf blowers on the church lawn one afternoon, I did not follow my id down the merry path to theft. (Oh, I would have returned them, but envisioned a hostage swap situation. Now all I do is stew about it.)

But inside my mild-mannered exterior, Leaf-Blower Avenger Woman lives! She has a giant blow-dart gun, and fires upon the hapless groundskeeper. The dart hits him square on his fluorescent-yellow work vest—such an easy target, really—rendering him very sleepy. He lies down for a four-hour nap, using the leaf blower as a pillow. 

In another revenge fantasy, Avenger Woman shows up at the pastor’s house on a Saturday morning. It’s 5:30 a.m. The minister lies peacefully in bed. Eager to be helpful and tidy, Avenger Woman begins working on his yard.

She starts with the weed wacker, grooming the shrubbery around his bedroom window. Then she zooms around his lawn on her super-duper mower, and finally, with much relish, whips out a leaf blower to ensure all the clippings are cleared off the grass. It’s a good thing she came prepared with extra cans of gas, too, so I … uh, I mean, Avenger Woman, won’t run out of fuel. For hours.

But my favorite scenario takes place at the church. Avenger Woman attends Sunday service and waits all through the hymns. Once the homily starts, she whips a fully charged Dust Buster out of her handbag and starts hoovering the aisle. Naturally, the minister stops and the congregation stares. “Don’t mind me!” bellows Avenger Woman. “Routine maintenance!” 

She may not exist, but my caped Avenger Woman has come to my rescue: She has saved me from being arrested. Particularly since, not to be outdone by the sparkling-clean church, Safeway and Longs Drugs Pali now blow their parking lot five mornings a week. Six out of seven days with a leaf blower going—it’s heaven, really. Up, up and away, Avenger Woman!