Leaf blowers: a neat metaphor for man’s hatred of nature

John Butler on his pet peeve: Every day, the howl issues from the gaping maw of a machine. NRRRRRR

Oh, and they’re not “leaf” blowers. Photograph: Getty

Oh, and they’re not “leaf” blowers. Photograph: Getty

 

I am not rich by any means, but I live in a flat in a house on a street with disgustingly minted neighbours. Each has a nice big garden that they never sit in because that’s what money does to you and each employs a gardener on different days of the week. So at some point during every working day, the roar of a leaf-blower surges its way into my consciousness. Monday it’s to the right. NRRRRRRRRR. Tuesday, the left. NRRRRRRRRR. Wednesday it’s across the road. NRRRRRRRRR. Thursday it’s out back. NRRRRRRRRR. Friday it’s at my apartment block. NRRRRRRRRR. Each and every day, the same howl issued from the gaping maw of a different machine, frustratingly intermittent, and loud enough to hurt.

My response? The same, every day. I fling up the window, glare down at the relevant gardener, note with resignation that even if he wasn’t wearing industrial ear muffs he wouldn’t be able to hear whatever insult I hurled at him, then I slam the window back down, return to my desk and wonder why I can’t be more mindful. NRRRRRRRRR.

Consider this, though: these dreadful things run on petrol! Even if the noise hadn’t ruined the flow of my working day, I would struggle to happen upon a neater metaphor for man’s hatred of nature than a gasoline-powered machine that moves beautiful leaves without any human having to touch them. Oh, and they’re not “leaf” blowers. If they were, we’d only hear the violent howl in late summer and autumn, when leaves fall. Beyond the sound, these heavy-metal rakes are used to disperse into the breathing air whatever happens to be laying around dormant: litter, twigs, rubbish, dust, dead insects, motes of faecal matter. So just think about that, next time you disparage the rake. NRRRRRRRRR.

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