Ah, the thrill of autumn’s splendor. I’ve no inclination to drive north to see the colorful display, being extremely content to stay right here and let the hues come to me. It’s more fun to watch the leaves go through their colors in my own yard and on the trees in the neighborhood than to see one pretty tree after another at its “peak.”
But each fall, as I watch the green leaves turn to red, brown, yellow and orange and then tumble to the ground, inevitably I start to get a little anxious. Here’s why:
Wet and dry, autumn leaves pose risks to drivers and pedestrians alike.
Parking your car over a pile of crispy sun-dried leaves can spark a fire. Think about the heaps of leaves along your residential street right now, piled high for the leaf-sucker-upper machines (I’ve checked: that is the official name) to come along and collect them on the day your neighborhood has been assigned – or a week or two from then, or whenever the crews get to your street.
Since your muffler can be hot – and I have a 2nd-degree burn scar on my leg as proof of how hot – and the catalytic converter even hotter – 1000 degrees inside, 800 degrees on the exterior – positioning these smokin’ items in proximity to dry leaves does sound a tad dangerous, doesn’t it?
Wet or dry, leaves also hide pipes, rocks, holes and a bunch of other things (the rake you couldn’t find?) that trip up pedestrians and can wreak havoc with car tires.
And wet leaves on streets or sidewalks? “Slippery as ice when left to form a thin film against the asphalt,” warns Advanced Service Solutions, a facilities maintenance company in Hammonton, New Jersey. Remember this if you’re driving around when Hurricane Sandy’s rains roll in. Treat a wet, leaf-spattered curve or intersection exactly as you would if you suspected black ice: drive more slowly and apply the brakes cautiously, watching for other drivers less aware than you.
And remind your young drivers of these risks and how to avoid them!
And water, water, everywhere!
Leaves fall. Then rain falls. Leaves wash into waterways and clog storm drains. When rain has nowhere to go, it gushes down the street and right into your yard and then basement. When your basement floods, your washer and dryer are damaged beyond repair. When you need to buy a new washer and dryer instead of the 72-inch flat screen you’ve been saving for, you yell and jump around. When you yell like that, you scare the dog and he bites your leg, requiring stitches and ruining your chances of being a leg model for big bucks on QVC.
As that television commercial might say, don’t miss a chance to be a wealthy leg model: clean up your leaves and put them where they won’t clog drains or create a slick mess on streets or sidewalks.