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Leaf Blowers and Snow

A few days ago, it was so warm we opened up all the windows and doors to bring fresh air into the stale winter house.  Every yard was warm and dry.  I even saw some buds on a few brave--and foolish--trees.

Naturally, with this came the Leaf Blower Brigade.

Yes, it was the middle of February, and my neighbors were rushing outside with their leaf blowers to get a jump on spring lawn cleanup.  The neighborhood was raucus with airy snarling and growling.  Really, I wanted to shove a grenade up their blowpipes just to stop the noise.  This =is= Michigan, after all.  What fool clears the lawn in February?

Sure enough, that very night, a windstorm blasted across Michigan.  Forty and fifty mile an hour winds upended everything that wasn't nailed down, and many things that were.  Trees toppled, and debris, debris, debris tumbled.  I felt a deep satisfcation as I saw my neighbors' newly pristine lawns become Nature's dumping ground.  Between the new leaves, pine needs, branches, and medium-sized trees, it looked like they hadn't done a thing.

But before they could get a grip on this, they were punished even further.  The snow arrived.

It hit all at once, promptly as predicted, at 9 AM Thursday morning.  Wet, sticky clumps that crashed down from the sky and turned eveery lot and lawn white in moments.

Rumors flew around school. They were sending everyone home at lunch. One of the other high schools had already canceled.  The superintendent had already decided to cancel school tomorrow but hadn't told anyone yet.

I told my students that in my 20 years of teaching, I'd only seen one instance of everyone being sent home early, and the district never canceled school for a single building during inclement weather.  "Anything's possible," I said, "but don't count on it until it happens."

Meanwhile, the Internet reported that the state captiol was shutting down for the day and county offices were shutting down for the day and the school district was canceling all after-school school activities for the day.  Rumors intensified.

During fifth hour, we got an email.  School was being released half an hour early.  (!)  This was to ensure the buses would be able to get everyone home at a normal time.  (Maksim's bus left way early, but he ultimately arrived home at his regular time.)

I called Darwin to tell him.  "You might want to close village hall for the day and start home," I said.

"I can't," he said.  "I'm swamped."

The roads were horrible and dangerous on my short drive home.  I texted Darwin to tell him he should leave ASAP.

"I'll be leaving at 4:30," he responded.

Ten minutes later, I got another text: "I'm closing village hall at 3:30."

A little while after that, I got the call--school is closed tomorrow.  It's only the second time in twenty years they've closed it this early for weather.

Meanwhile, all over the neighborhood, the same people who had been laboring with their leafblowers were outside with snow blowers and snow shovels.  I glanced at my own untouched lawn, which looked exactly the same as theirs, with a certain amount of un-neighborly satisfaction.

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