I’m frightened—petrified. This time of year brings out my worst fears. I dread the words that come out of my wife’s mouth as dusk settles early on this cold winter evening. The words haunt me: “Can you go into the crawl space and check the mousetraps?” Just writing this sends a shiver down my spine. I try to act manly by deepening my voice and saying, “Of course, babe.” But she can hear the fear in me. My kids look at me and feel empathy for my plight but also relief that the task is not theirs.
This time of year is generally my favorite. I love the chill in the air, the dim light reflecting off the embers in the fireplace, and the silence in the winter night. Unfortunately, it is also the time when gigantic mice—other people say they’re regular size—take up residency in my crawl space. It’s not their fault. No mouse wants to be outdoors in this weather. Don’t tell the mice this, but I can’t blame them. Our house is one inviting place. Continue reading “Tails of Fear—A Winter Evening in My Crawl Space”
I have one rule whenever I am required to drive in adverse weather. I decide not to. No matter where I need to be, it simply isn’t worth it.
Over the years I’ve missed funerals, weddings, work, work functions, picking up my kids from day care, picking up my kids from school, picking up my kids from play dates, picking up my wife from the airport, basketball practices in which I’m coaching and a haircut at a trendy new place for guys with receding hairlines.
The reason is because I am a terrible driver whenever my car traverses anything other than dry pavement.
It’s not my fault my parents decided to settle down and start a family in the D.C. area. It’s theirs. They could’ve started a family anywhere. Buffalo, Boston or Montreal all would’ve been suitable.
I’ve been raking the leaves in my backyard for about 15 years now. The first year, I was an idealistic 25-year-old, full of stubborn vigor. I heard the hums of leaf blowers off in the distance and shrugged my shoulders, resolute with the feeling of strength I had for doing it “the hard way.”
I was also a bit overconfident. After raking my lawn for hours, carrying tarp load upon tarp load to the front curb, sweat glistening off my forehead, I would walk past the more seasoned homeowners. They were done with their leaves as well, but they used machinery to get the job done. I’d scamper past them as they were resting on their front stoops, leaf blower resting by their side and utter something like, “You missed a spot,” mockingly pointing to the back corner of their side yard. Then I would laugh to myself as they stared back at me, with a sadness in their eyes.
Over the years, as I got older and the soreness lingered, I still heard the hum of the leaf blowers. They were growing more noisy with each passing year. Still, I refused to give in. I was the one carrying the legacy of the rake, the only “rake guy” left in Rockville. I was responsible for showing newer generations that the struggle was real. It was a burden, I won’t lie. Continue reading “The raking guy: A (mostly true) essay on the seasonal struggle”