John Carlson: Quite The Contraption

What rake advancements will they think of next? Photo by: John CarlsonWhat rake advancements will they think of next? Photo by: John Carlson

By: John Carlson—

You want proof that life today is way too complicated? Here it is.


But let’s begin with drones. Drones are a big deal any more. It’s to the point where those remotely controlled flying machines are being used – or soon will be – to deliver packages shipped by corporations like Amazon and Walmart. Eventually, one presumes that even Pizza Hut’s pepperoni pushers will probably be prone to piloting pizza-delivery drones that plop down on your place with precision service that can only be described as … um … pronto.

So this is autumn, the time of year when falling leaves are such a hassle to homeowners, especially us blubbery out-of-shape ones. It seems to me the time is right for far-thinking lawn-service companies to string together hundreds of drones that’ll fly in formation over your home bearing gigantic plastic suction cups.

Then when the suction cup is lined up with your lawn, the drone pilot will engage his MSA (Maximum Suck Activator) and whumpff!!!

Every fallen leaf on your place will be instantly whisked up into the cup for eventual deposit out in some remote country compost pile. This will save people like me from having to bend over getting all sweaty and stuff while shoving millions of stupid leaves into trash bags. Oh sure, we’ll have to work a few kinks out of this system, like the fact that jack-o-lanterns, cats and trick-or-treaters will be sucked up into it, too.

But such is the price of progress.

It’s fantasies like gaggles of leaf-sucking drones that haunt me every year about this time, which coincides with the mailman’s delivery of our A.M. Leonard Horticultural Tool & Supply Co. catalog. Just the other day I flipped the catalog open and, while it didn’t feature leaf-sucking drones yet, I was confronted with a virtual cavalcade of rakes. These included your forged grading rakes, as well as the fork-like ones you use to muck manure.

But it was the regular leaf rakes that left me confounded.

First I set eyes on a ten-tine rake for entry-level rakers. Priced to move at just $13.39, if offered the kind of handling and maneuverability that hot-rodding young homeowners want while tearing around the only two shrubs their budgets can afford.

But then I noticed the other rakes aimed at older, more well-to-do rakers. There were the eighteen-tine babies for those seeking a mix of comfort and handling. Then there were the twenty-four tine models for the more prosperous, conservative rakers unwilling to compromise on luxury. But wait! What was this? There was also a snazzy twenty-two tine model with a lifetime warranty that practically screamed, “Buy me!”

And handles? You want handles? There was the understated elegance of your classic American Ash Handle, of course. But naturally, my eyes were drawn to the exciting Tuff-Strong Fiberglass Handle with the built in hook opening “for easy hanging.” But not even that exciting handle could match the raw sex appeal of the TUFF-FLEX composite handle. The mere thought of being out there raking leaves with that bad boy in my hands got me all hot and bothered, imagining the passing widow ladies who’d cast lustful looks my way and purr, “Wow, Carlson really knows how to manhandle that TUFF-FLEX.”

But then I thought about all these rake options and the various pricing packages running from $20.39 for an eighteen tine with an ash handle to $35.59 for the racy twenty-two tine rake sporting what turned out to be an American Beech handle attached by a double-bolted connection. Then I thought, screw it.

I’d never be able to settle on the right rake for me.

Besides, there was plenty more cool stuff in the catalog to consider buying. Practically green with envy, I spotted the Cutter Lyme Disease Tick Test Kit for just $36.09. I mean, who wouldn’t want to find  that under the Christmas tree, or even earlier? Say you just came in from some raking, cast a passing glance at the bathroom mirror and thought, “What’s that  brown M&M doing stuck to my nose?” Upon closer examination, it’d turn out to be a famished deer tick slurping up your very life’s blood. Sure, if you had half the day to waste you could lose a bunch of time undergoing the regular tick protocol at the emergency room. But suppose there were thousands more leaves you needed to rake. With Cutter’s Tick Test Kit, instead of burning it off with a lit cigarette like they did back in the old days, you’d simple pry the little jerk from your face with the certified tick-removal tool. Then you’d test your tick with the 99.9 percent accurate Lyme Disease test kit, thereby learning you’re infected with Lyme Disease way before the distinctive tick rash showed up in an embarrassing bull’s eye pattern on the tip of your schnozz.

Or maybe you’d think, “Man, I’d sure like to own that Arborrain Tree Hydration System, available in the regular 32-gallon or 2.5-gallon ‘mini’ system for between $9.99 and $27.24!” Round and soft and looking just like whoopee cushions, they could do double duty as butt pillows if while out raking you overstressed yourself and birthed a hemorrhoid.

And hey, folks, let’s face it. Winter ison the way. So while doing your autumn shopping, it might also be a good time to order your new MANPLOW REVOLUTION SNOW PUSHER available in widths of 24-inches, 42-inches and 62-inches. I’d want that big bruiser, of course, except if I actually tried to push 62 inches of wet snow, the guys at Beech Grove Cemetery would need to borrow it to clear a path out to my burial plot. But once it was cleared, they could haul me there with comfort and convenience on my brand new 24-by-60 inch Extended Deck Cart, a bargain at just $440.89!

On second thought, maybe I don’t want any of this stuff. There’s gotta be an old rake out in the garage someplace.


A former longtime feature writer and columnist for The Star Press in Muncie, Indiana, John Carlson is a storyteller with an unflagging appreciation for the wonderful people of East Central Indiana and the tales of their lives, be they funny, poignant, inspirational or all three.  John’s columns appear on Muncie Journal every Friday.