Silly me for forgetting the second Sunday before Thanksgiving is a national holiday.

National Leaf Blowing Day comes around every year — two weeks after Halloween and two weeks before the re-enactment of the pilgrim feast. NLBD, we’ll call it. It’s not the kind of holiday that prompts mall stampedes, newspaper supplements or costumes. (Well, more on that later.)

Rather, it’s a collective, lemming-like dance to bag fallen leaves in time for the town’s Department of Public Works to whisk away autumn’s detritus.

Knowing the pickup deadline looms, folks along country roads and in cul-de-sacs — people you never otherwise see — pour from their homes to participate in an annual rite of passage. Like the shofar sounded on the Jewish New Year, the rousing roar of leaf blowers rises upward in a splendid song of cleansing, turning a Sunday into a six-aspirin day.

But as I said earlier, I hadn’t remembered when I woke that Sunday it was NLBD. My husband and I were in bed luxuriating with the newspaper, because for a change we had the house to ourselves. Our daughter was at Granny’s for a weekend sleepover.

It started like clockwork — and I say that literally — because 11 a.m. is the time town dwellers with power tools are permitted by local laws to deprive others of a day of peace. At the first jarring blast, I ran to my daughter’s bedroom window to see a neighbor in the grass dressed like an alien. A metal jetpack on his back, he looked like the grandfather in “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang”; his giant earphones were straight out of “Is it real or is it Memorex?” commercials. Then I saw the tube-like attachment creating a swirling eddy of dead leaves.

“Oh noooooooooo,” I bellowed. “It’s the leaf blower.”

I knew the cacophony would continue for hours: 1) because power tools are fun; 2) because we live on a mountain with a lot of trees; and 3) because men left on their own on a Sunday can easily find themselves in a trance.

Seeing my face twisted with agitation, my husband said, “Let’s go to the lake and take a walk.”

On this gorgeous blue day, we arrived at the lake path. The warm sun belied the changing season. Only yellowed maple leaves were still clinging to trees. I took deep breaths, grateful for the escape.

Then I heard it.

“What is that noise?” I asked.

“Don’t look,” my husband said, shielding my eyes.

Too late. Not far off the path, an army of deployed county workers were blowing leaves.

“This is a park!” I crowed. “Why do dead leaves need to be hauled away from a forest?”

(There may be a good answer to this question. It wouldn’t surprise me if some nice reader e-mails me the explanation.)

But at that moment, I was bereft.

“Try not to think about it,” my husband said. “After our walk, we’ll go for a croissant.”

Driving from the lake to the village, I witnessed darkly dressed men standing in clouds of leaves that swirled around them like small tornadoes. When we parked and got out of the car, the great song of autumn continued. Even owners of postage-stamp-size lawns felt the need to blow their leaves into tiny piles.

The din vibrated against the glass window at the patisserie while we ate croissants and spooned up potato leek soup. It was then I realized: There was no way to escape NLBD. This was a holiday, with all its trappings. Like fireworks on July Fourth. Like the ball dropping on New Year’s Eve.

We drove back home. My neighbor was still blowing leaves.

“Maybe we should clear up, too,” I said to my husband.

“I guess,” he said, threading his arms back into his red-and-black lumber jacket and heading out the door.

I settled onto the couch and listened to the gentle scuffling of the plastic rake scraping at crispy crunching leaves, one scoop at a time.

Get the entire story of Tina Traster’s move from the city to a rural suburb in “Burb Appeal: The Collection,” now available on Amazon.com.

E-mail: [email protected]

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TINA TRASTER writes the 'Burb Appeal' column for The New York Post and "The Great Divide" blog for the Huffington Post. She is a city girl who has turned her efforts to social commentary on life in a NY-metro area suburb. She is not afraid to "out" bad actors, annoy neighbors, take on bumbling town officials or challenge anyone who messes with her bliss. She lives with her husband, young daugther and four cats in an 1850s reclaimed farmhouse on a beautiful mountain precipice.

Traster is at work on a memoir called Burb Appeal.

You can reach her via email at [email protected]

3 responses to “Sunday, Noisy Sunday”

  1. J.M. Blaine says:

    While a leaf blower provides
    more fun than
    say, a push mower
    or post-hole digger,
    it isn’t quite as fun
    as hedge trimmers
    or chainsaws.

    Take the next step
    from suburb to the sticks
    & you won’t even hear a rake.

    Goats, maybe.

  2. Reno j. Romero says:


    Good morning. Being a sheltered West Coast dude I have never heard of this holiday. But it sounds like, uh, a blast (yeah, I know, I had to say it). But it truly does. I have always found these regional/local holidays fantastic. I think it’s because there’s an air of silliness to them (well, I guess you can make that argument that the ‘mall stampede’ holidays are as well). But if I was in that area I would definitely engage. The neighbor dressed as an alien? Genius. When I read the passage I could see the metal jetpack, the leaves looping around! I was busting up and still am. It’s hysterical! Well, Tina, I’ve bored you enough. Thanks for the education and remember: if you don’t wanna blow those friggin’ leaves there’s always NFL football right? Now, THAT’S a weekly national holiday. Thanks for the read.

  3. I think next year I’m going to participate.

    My wife and I just bought a house in suburbia Charlottesville. When the leaves started falling, I saw all of my neighbors, from one end of the street to the other, powering up their leaf blowers.

    “What laziness,” I said to my wife. “You have to get leaves up the old fashioned way. Plus, good exercise.”

    So we went to Lowes and I bought a sweet ass 30″ Poly Leaf Rake. No slip grip guarantee. Also picked up a 28-bag box of lawn bags. Eighteen completely filled lawn bags and a sore lower back later, I wrote on my Christmas list, Leaf blower. Make it happen.

    My neighbors were on to something. They knew this time of year better than my virgin in suburbia ass.

    And if Santa doesn’t bring me a leaf blower, I’m investing in evergreens.

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