It’s autumn.

Which means it’s time for ...

Fall colors?

Cooler weather?

Pumpkins?

Nah.

It’s time for cleaning the roof, gutters and backyard of those dreaded pine needles.

Last week, there I was. Up on the roof. Ready for battle. Rake in one hand, electric leaf blower in the other.

My wife stood nearby. Phone in hand, 911 on speed dial.

With rain in the forecast, I had to jump on the annual chore sooner than later.

I have a love/hate relationship with the half-dozen pine trees that surround the backyard. Love the trees, hate the needles.

All summer long, the needles on the 80-foot-plus pines trees slowly turned yellow. I could hear them chanting softly, “Neener, neener, neener.” They bide their time until the fall winds release the wretched little, spiney things in an avalanche that covers everything — even the dogs — in an inch-thick, crunchy, organic carpet.

Have you ever tried to find, let alone pick up, dog poo from a yard covered with pine needles? It ain’t pretty.

And, if I don’t remove the needles quickly, their acidic nature kills the grass.

This fall, the trees seem particularly vindictive, releasing a deluge of needles immediately after I rake the yard — three times!

A week ago I spent two hours raking and hauling away a dozen 3-foot high piles, only to wake up the next morning to find the lawn — and the dogs — buried under a new layer of needles.

The top of the house was transformed into a 16th-century thatched roof. The gutters? Stuffed with pine needles.

Arrghh!

Let’s take a trip in the Wayback Machine:

Twenty years ago, when my wife and I were looking for a place to call home in the Brookings-Harbor area, part of our criteria was that it must “feel” like Oregon. We didn’t want to live in a subdivision with cookie-cutter homes and manicured lawns. We wanted to see, smell or hear the ocean, and have at least a few pine trees. We soon found a modest home on property that fit the criteria.

And the pine trees! They were the best part of the deal. They towered over the property. The looked pretty and smelled oh-so-heavenly.

Oh, how ignorant I was.

That first fall, surrounded by a landscape of needles, I asked, “What was I going to do with all of this?”

Hmmm. Perhaps a match and little bit of lighter fluid? Is that legal?

Some people weave pine needle baskets. There’s an idea! With all the needles in my backyard — and with help from a small army of woodland elves — I could provide every human on Earth with a basket. But really, how many pine needle baskets does this world need?

Maybe I could mold the pine needles into bricks and sell them as fire starters.

Let’s face it. There’s was only one way to stem the overwhelming tide of pine needles in the back yard: cut the trees down. Never going to happen. The evergreens are lovely all year long, provide a wind and sound barrier, and are home to many birds and other critters.

Yep. The trees stay, and with them, the needles.

Honey. Plug in the leaf blower and hand me that rake. I’m heading back into battle!

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