Southampton residents gathered last week in large halls to demand that the mayor ban gasoline powered leaf blowers throughout the entire year.
“There are often anywhere from three to six blowers working in tandem outside our door,”According to The Southampton Press, Orson Cummings was the filmmaker. “We can’t think straight and enjoy our lives.”
“You’ve been bombarded with hundreds of emails and letters, and you’ve done nothing,”Someone else said it. “What’s taking so long?”
Others demanded that action be taken.
Mayor Jesse Warren chose not to wiggle. “There’s a lot to be considered,”He said.
They looked at each others.
It is clearly wrong for July and August to ban gasoline-powered leaf blowers. In those months, the leaves stay attached to the trees. October is when the ground starts to look a mess. Leaf blowing can be done legally.
Is there a leaf blowing cult? They threatened to stop the mayor from continuing with this seasonal restriction. What’s next? What’s next? Let’s not be so stingy!
The Southampton Press reported that the mayor said he’d like to set up some kind of public forum to discuss the issue and hear from people on both sides of the debate, reinforcing his waffle and putting an end to the discussion.
What’s the deal with leaf blowing? It’s absurd. For millions of years, the northern hemisphere’s leaves were gloriously colored and then fell to the ground in October. Suddenly, now it’s a problem. These leaves must be blown off wealthy people’s properties. These properties were very expensive. They want them to be in top condition. This is a huge benefit for landscaping businesses. These 20-horsepower gasoline engines are attached to the backs and shoulders of workers. They then attach the engine to their backs, put noise-cancelling earmuffs in their ears, and then turn on the blower tube. Things get blown from hither to yon, and then, if not picked up — another operation entirely — get blown from yon back to hither, and customers get charged for a second time.
There are tensions. On occasion, the workmen blow the leaves to the edge of a homeowner’s property and then, after looking left and right to make sure nobody is watching, blow them up in the air and across the property line to become the neighbor’s, after which they cackle and waddle away.
Orson Cummings is the filmmaker. We all know that he makes movies with Ben, his younger brother, who confirmed the leaf blower attack. Ben and he are sat in their home mulling over their ideas, when they are interrupted by an army of working men making loud noises while they blow leaf and other debris high into the air and drop it onto Cummings’ lawn.
Leaf blowers, however, are relatively new. Landscapers used to use rakes before leaf blowers. Rake, rake, rake. We all got along.
Are you part of the 2004 Leaf War For hours, the air was filled by loud leaf blower noises.
This was back before gasoline-powered leaf blowers. Before that, both East Hampton Town (and Southampton Town) had operations that helped residents fight the dreaded tree. The Southampton Town Highway Departments would record dates and times when leaf-sucking truck drivers raked leaves to their roads. The leaf-sucking trailers, which were motorized machines that made leaves into mulch for municipal parks, were also carried by the trucks. It was a win/win scenario. The people were patient and tolerant of the loud, disgusting munching these contraptions did for a brief time on their particular road.
The Town of Southampton announced however that they would not be making leaf-munching pickups a month before leaf-sucking day 2004. They fell to the ground just like they did every October. They were blown to the curbside just like every other October. They sat waiting. The word finally came down.
It would be identical on the East Hampton side. But not on Southampton’s side.
In downtown Sag Harbor, there is Division Street. The boundary between East Hampton and Southampton is marked by the white line that runs down its center. (How it happened is a different story that I will save for another time.
It was the night prior to leaf pickup day when the horrible roar of dozens of gas-powered leaf-blowing equipment filled the Southampton side. Southampton landscapers started blowing all their leaves across Division Street to the east. The Town’s mulching vehicles in East Hampton would then pick up the vagabond leaf on the other side, as they were unable to identify its origin.
Had this been done when using rakes was how you dealt with fallen leaves — or even if they had used electric leaf blowers, which just issue a gentle hum — the chaos that followed could have been avoided.
East Hampton police arrived at the scene to investigate the noise. They discovered that Southampton gasoline leaf-blowers were blocking traffic at that hour. The police were caught red handed. The East Hampton leaf-blowers rushed to the scene and began blowing the leaves down the street to Southampton.
It was a great night!
It turned out to be a disaster. At 3:00 a.m., an armistice was signed and both sides agreed to leave the leaf as it was. Everyone went home. A week later, Southampton Town repealed the law. They also mulched all the leaves they had within a few days.
The leaf-blowers must be unmasked. Southampton residents must persuade their village to accept their demands.