An April day with the grass coming in green and a soft wind blowing among daffodils is a perfect time to seize the leaf rake and set to cleaning up outdoors. Another similar, April day--also perfect. A third? Slightly less perfect. A fourth such day begins to feel like work.
It feels like work because it is work. Leaf raking is a task of a magnitude and a futility rivaling the labor of Sisyphus, the unfortunate inmate of hell in Greek myth who eternally rolled his boulder up the hill, to have it eternally roll back down again. Last year's leaves, pasted to the ground by the snows, cling tenaciously and require vigorous raking. Raked, freed from the earth, they toss themselves gaily in the breeze; they caper and shy about like wild colts. Chasing them with your rake, gathering them into piles, watching as they escape and frisk away, and raking them back to the pile is a job less like bringing order to a disordered setting than it is like herding boisterous and unruly young stock.
You're a kind of drover or wrangler of leaves, with the difference that at the end of your drive there is no railhead where you ship the critters off to Chicago. There is only a task abandoned rather than completed, as you contemplate the many leaves that escaped your rake--and their successors, this year's leaves, multiplying overheads.