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"A Man for All Seasons"

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I am a man for all seasons. Unfortunately, except for Frankie Valli, I often get the four seasons mixed up. That's why I am doing my fall cleanup in the spring.

As a homeowner who doesn't actually own my home (the bank does, although it kindly allows me to pay the mortgage), I have to rake leaves, cut grass, shovel snow and do other chores I can't afford to pay someone else to do because I am paying the bank, which won't send over a customer service specialist to do them for me.

Now I am in the middle of raking leaves that fell last fall, which is called fall because you will fall into the leaves that fell in the fall and will not feel fine after you have fallen.

It's like the biblical story of the loaves and the fishes, except I call it the leaves and the flushes because after you rake up one pile of leaves, two more will miraculously appear, whereupon you will flush and fall into the leaves, possibly coming down with a nasty case of poison oak.

Speaking of oaks, I would like to poison the ones in my yard. As a Connecticut Yankee by birth and raising, I used to love these majestic trees, not just because of the story of the Charter Oak, in which the state constitution was hidden until it was eaten by squirrels, but because of the beauty of the leaves that fell into other people's yards every fall.

Now that I have my own house, I hate oaks. According to statistics that must be true or I wouldn't have made them up, one oak tree can drop 17 million acorns. I have half a dozen oaks on my property. When you do the math (17 million times six), this amounts to a hell of a lot of acorns.

Unfortunately, the squirrels can't keep up, either because Henry, one of our three cats, likes to eat them (the squirrels, not the acorns) or because they (the squirrels, not the cats) are on a diet.

To compound matters, in the spring, oaks drop brown stuff that stains cars, clogs gutters and litters yards. This is Mother Nature's way of saying that if you have somehow managed to get rid of the leaves and acorns in the fall, you are still not out of the woods because you will have to clean up in the spring, too.

Speaking of Mother Nature, she helped me out a couple of years ago by getting rid of one of our oaks. Unfortunately, she dropped it on the house of our next-door neighbors. At least they got free firewood.

The worst thing about oaks is that they are supposedly the strongest trees, but even after a mild breeze blows through, the yard is covered with twigs and branches that must be picked up before you can rake leaves or cut the grass.

And speaking of grass, it can't be cut if it doesn't grow. This is the case in our yard, which looks like I manicured it with a flamethrower. The secret to growing grass is to spread fertilizer. As readers of this column know, that is my specialty.

But I can't do this until I get rid of the leaves and acorns from last fall. I am doing it myself because it will save me a lot of money I could spend on something more important, like beer.

In fact, I have come up with a foolproof system for yard work. The proof is that a fool came up with it: (a) buy beer, (b) drink it, (c) repeat until the job is done.

At this rate, I'll have all those leaves and acorns cleaned up by next fall.

Stamford Advocate columnist Jerry Zezima is the author of "Leave It to Boomer." More info at www.jerryzezima.blogspot.com. E-mail: JerryZ111@optonline.net.