A love letter to NJ’s loud leaf blowers
Tip O’Neill coined the phrase “all politics is local.” Well it doesn’t get more local than sitting inside your own home with a sound right outside your own window that is going to push you possibly for the first time ever to contact your city council and start complaining like a Karen in training.
Since the pandemic started more and more people who are working from home have been complaining to their local governments about the sound of gas-powered leaf blowers.
Yes, you heard that right. Here we sit in the state with the largest property taxes, a pension system which is not sustainable, home rule destroying almost everything, and yet the big thing in these people's lives politically is an annoying sound near their house.
Towns like Maplewood, Summit and Montclair are taking action, banning these leaf blowers in one form or another.
Of course proponents of these silly bans aren’t just pointing to the noise. They’re pointing to the problem with unmitigated emissions and air quality.
But do you notice emissions never seemed to be on their minds when they were at their offices all day away from this sound? It seems only when they actually had to be irritated for a few minutes by someone’s noisy gas-powered leaf blower did emissions even matter. So let’s get real. It’s the sound. And people have become far too privileged.
You want your pristine lawns? You want to pay someone else to keep your property pretty? Yet now you don’t like the sound of how it gets done? Grow up.
And if I could practice some anthropomorphism for a moment and whisper directly into the ear of leaf blowers, edgers, lawn mowers and all the rest of lawn equipment everywhere, I want to whisper a soothing I love you.
I love your sound. It’s the sound of spring and summer. It’s the sound of happiness. Of things getting done. It’s the sound of the promise of the sweet smell of cut grass. It’s the sound of blue skies.
Now lawn equipment, you may laugh at me and call me overly dramatic, but I swear to you I love you. You bring me back to my years between four and ten when I was a kid growing up right next to the middle school in Rahway. My summers were filled with the whirring sounds of lawn mowers and blowers and all the rest it seemed like most days. That school has a huge amount of property behind it. And it felt like most days for many hours we heard your sounds both distant and near.
Your sound from a distance was as beautiful as the sound of a train whistle late at night from afar. Your sound on the other side of the school fence just 20 feet from our windows was very loud and very beautiful. It meant I’d be running over there soon after to play with Carl and Paul and maybe Dave from across the street.
And damn if your work didn’t make it smell like a perfect summer. And those fresh-cut, wet clippings would cling to our Converses and eventually stain them green.
So for me your sound is not an annoyance. For me your sound is the sound of my childhood. And while they are banning Pepe le Pew and the movie Dumbo and everything else that was normal when I was a kid, let's have them leave you alone. I'd like to keep this one thing of my childhood.
The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Jeff Deminski. Any opinions expressed are Jeff Deminski's own.