Photo: Judy Bender. Beret: Louis Philippe, Paris.

How many times must a man rake his yard

Before his lawn sees the sun?

Yes'n, how many leaves can one tree drop

Before he knows it is done?

Yes'n, how many years must he labor in vain

Before the battle is won?

The answer, my friends, is blowing in the wind

The answer is blowing in the wind.

Grumpy is not an early adopter. A decrepit electric typewriter from the 1980s still sits in his office. An old-style push mower like the one Clint Eastwood used in "Gran Torino" rests in his garage. His political party affiliation is Whig.

Thus, the latest and greatest garden technology is seldom to be found. For years, he raked and raked and raked his yard, like Neanderthals did in Spain thousands of years ago. One morning, however, he awoke to an ungodly loud noise coming from the yard next door. His neighbor was employing a miraculous new device called a "leaf blower" to clear his lawn and driveway of debris. Grumpy was enthralled! The leaf blower accomplished the work in a fraction of the time! After several years of careful deliberation, Grumpy bought a leaf blower.

It was an epiphany. Leaves gone, just like that! No raking, no sweeping, no gnashing of teeth. "Isn't life wonderful?" he thought. "This is the last new device I'll ever have to buy." He poured himself a beer from a bottle equipped with another recent technological innovation called a twist-off cap. Grumpy was ready for Silicon Valley.

Grumpy loved his blower. He even named it "Leafy." But Leafy had one little drawback. It was an electric blower that needed to be plugged into a power cord longer than the nose of a city council member to work. Somehow the cord miraculously wrapped itself around any object in sight, such as a tree, mailbox, light pole, or adventurous earthworm, making leaf-blowing a pain in Grumpy's firm, toned posterior. But as Leafy continued to represent the latest in technological marvels inside of Grumpy's garage, he continued calling on Leafy for 10 more years.

One day last spring, a box arrived in Grumpy's office. People send Grumpy lots of boxes, so unless there are obvious signs of life inside one ("Hey, it's Ryan Lochte! Let me out!), he stacks them in a corner until the stack falls over. The stack stood tall until he put Ryan Lochte on top, at which point it toppled, dropping Ryan on his head. No damage there.

As Grumpy picked up one box intending to return it to its rightful place in the corner, for some strange reason he thought, "Perhaps I should open it." He did and that action literally changed his life (and Leafy's too) forever. Inside was a leaf blower that operated on a rechargeable lithium-ion battery. No more power cords!

For the record, this device is a GreenWorks Digipro blower vac. It not only emits a breeze up to 185 mph (greater than even Grumpy does after eating Judy's cooking), but it also can suck leaves in and grind them into mulch. It works great! Grumpy even used it to blow the dander off of Ketchup, our cantankerous, 20 year-old cat.

How did Grumpy ever live without a cordless, rechargeable leaf blower? Especially one that came in a box for free? It's a mystery. Good-bye, Leafy. You served me well. But now you're just old news.