I had just got ready for one of my beloved autumn walks. Wrapped up in my coat, the hat on my pate, and the umbrella clenched in my gloved hand, I opened the door and with a blissful shiver strode into the dim tearish day – when, suddenly, an obscene roar rent the air: a coughing and shrieking and bawling like from a thousand pigs in agony, and a stench shot into my nose that might be common in the oil port of Rotterdam.

Leaf blowers!

Three, four blank-faced henchmen clad in strident colours were stooping about in the street and, armed with those very apparatuses, driving the leaves in front of them. From the left to the right and from the right to the left they whirled – all those little corpses, those reminders of a summer that seemed years ago, those heralds of transience and of the inescapable cycle of coming to be and passing away.

I love those leaves. The rustling, the scent, and the colours, those marvelous colours, shining with desperate brightness at first and then fading away in great earnestness.

Nothing can be more outrageous and un-chivalrous than to rush into this solemn dying with infernal clearing devices! It is disrespectful, obscene, and brutal. When we were children we used to plough through the heaps of leaves at play, we plunged into them and lay on them, we even collected particularly beautiful leaves and pressed them in books to preserve their beauty.

And today the leaves are swept away. With roaring life-rending machinery.

No!

I am a staid man, a gentleman who appreciates good manners and decency. And yet – and yet my umbrella is a little crooked now. And out there, beneath the ever-growing heaps of leaves, there are lying four motionless men in shrill-coloured garment – and are silent, very silent.