The Middle Ages: Musings on fall mornings, leaf blowers and my big fat geek wedding

I just keep celebrating fall, despite the reasons not to — the leaf blowers, the indifferent neighbors, the chainsaw down the street.
(Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times)

We are enjoying one of those crisp, pumpkins-on-the-porch October mornings, enhanced by the leaf blower next door, crazy loud. As we speak, it is blasting my neighbor’s crud under the fence and into my crud. I try to protect my crud, so this alarms me, this blasting of alien crud into the crunchy seasonal flora of my own precious patio.

But if you’re going to live in a big city, you have to learn to be a little Zen about such things: the noise, the traffic, the way no one – family, bosses, bartenders — looks you in the eye.

Zen Lutheranism. I recommend it to everyone.

I made a crack about Lutheran weddings last week, which riled some folks from Iowa, where I once lived — not particularly well, and I was always wind-chapped, but I actually lived there, if that’s what you call living. Gawd, it was awful.


Anyway, a reader said I misrepresented Lutheran weddings when I labeled them “leaden.” I speak from experience, since I’ve attended many Lutheran weddings, including my own, where I blacked out during the second act — my bride, Posh, scripted it like a three-act Sondheim musical. But then I rallied in the last act to save the show. The audience, many of them Lutherans, really loved my geeky performance.

“Bravo,” one of them yawned. There was even scattered clapping.

What I’m saying is that I’ve seen my share of Lutheran weddings, and they are always glorious celebrations. Yet, like all weddings, they can be a little leaden at times — especially when the groom blacks out in a pivotal part of the second act.

Last week, I also made a wisecrack about Dubuque, which I feel worse about, because as the reader pointed out, a drive along the Mississippi River at this time of year would be a rolling and romantic journey. Besides, back there folks actually look you in the eye.


It wouldn’t justify going all the way to Iowa. I mean, get a grip. Try to summon your Zen Lutheranism, which is a decaf version of traditional Buddhist philosophy.

So far, my newfound Zen Lutheranism fits me pretty well, and I now make the most of my days and nights, not letting life’s little leaf blowers upset me.

Because here I sit, in the backyard on what I’d rate as the most perfect October day in the history of all Octobers. The winds howled the day before, but this day is still and the birds are celebrating by gobbling the fermenting berries. In the air, the first little tingles of another outstanding autumn.

As F. Scott said: “Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.”

I’m such a sucker for this busy season. I’m just a sucker generally, but especially for fall, when I begin to collect seeds and nuts for the long winter nights. I also stash a little grain alcohol in my nest, because you never know when the snows might hit.

In the wacky era of modern weather, I predict L.A. gets a significant snow this winter. I hope the TV weather teams are prepped, because you know how they get. It rains half an inch and they break into “Special Report” coverage usually reserved for world wars. It’s as if the moon has gone missing.

When it snows this winter, you might see Fritz Coleman’s head actually explode … full coverage at 11!

In preparation, we’re having a new roof put on soon at the Little House on the Prairie, so you can just imagine the level of excitement over that.


“A new roof?” asks our daughter Rapunzel.

“You didn’t notice all the leaks?”

“What leaks?” she says, looking up at the ceiling. “Mars is in retrograde, you know.”

So maybe we’re not having a new roof put on. Now I can’t decide.

That’s the thing about Zen Lutheranism, it mellows you maybe too much. Nothing gets to you, nothing registers.

What, me worry?

I just keep celebrating fall, despite the reasons not to — the leaf blowers, the indifferent neighbors, the chainsaw down the street.

You think L.A. gardeners are aggressive, you should see the tree crews. Like swarms of dentists, they can drill through a grove of 70-year-old eucalyptuses in a single day, leaving stubby nubs, in lieu of what were once beautiful trees.


Listen, I get it. Big trees are such a nuisance, especially the beautiful ones. Wipe them out. Send in the dentists with their big drills!

By the way, when the gunk was storming under the fence this morning, I told the little guy that I was going to get out our own leaf blower and send the gunk swirling back into the neighbor’s yard. Fortunately, he was more Zen about it than I was.

“Dad, take the highway,” he suggested.

“You mean the high road?” I asked.

“No, the highway,” he said. “It’s faster.”

Book report

Chris Erskine will discuss his new book, “Daditude,” a collection of his Times columns, at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Cerritos Library, 18025 Bloomfield Ave. He also appears at the Santa Monica Library at 2 p.m. Nov.10.

Twitter: @erskinetimes