FALMOUTH – Standing in and adding to Falmouth’s grand canyon of leaves, Tricia Souza-DeMello and Heather Medeiros unloaded their third truck full of leaves of the day at the Falmouth Leaf Dump.
Two days before Thanksgiving, the air was in the 60s. But the leaves were wet. “They’re heavy today because of the rain we’ve had,” said Souza-DeMello, of Falmouth, after pulling the wet load from her truck. Souza-DeMello and Medeiros were part of a steady stream of people, landscapers and homeowners, bringing their leaves to the Falmouth Leaf Dump on Tuesday.
“This is our peak season,” said Doug Potter of the Falmouth Department of Public Works, who was using a front end loader to move piles of leaves to make room for more leaves. “It’s a non-stop thing, five days a week from 7:30 in the morning until to 3:30 in the afternoon,” he said.
There is always a line of people waiting to get in at 7:30, said Potter, so they can empty their truck from the previous afternoon’s work and start again. Potter said most people are very cooperative and dump leaves where he isn’t working.
But, Potter said, he has noticed that some people have difficulty with their vehicles. “It’s just comical to see some people trying to back up trailers,” he said.
Potter said his own yard is currently full of leaves, but he eventually gives them to his sister to grind up for compost, because they are maple leaves and thus less acidic than oak leaves.
Of course, as he moves piles of leaves at the leaf dump, the leaves themselves become compost. And all of this – the dumping of the leaves and the compost it becomes – is free.
“It’s well organized, here,” said Richard Cairo of East Falmouth. “And by next year, this will all be mulch. It’s fantastic.”
The stream of trucks with beds full of leaves and cars with bags full of leaves continued.
“This is a good spot to bring your leaves,” said Will Bento of WGB Painting. Bento, Franny Barrett and T.J. Lennox unloaded a trailer full of leaves.
“It’s a beautiful day on Cape for fall cleanup,” said Barrett.
And Lennox added, “It’s hard work but it’s not too bad. It’s good to be outside and be active.”
Meanwhile, Nathaniel Donkin dumped “between one thousand and fifteen hundred pounds” of leaves from a huge box built on the back of the truck he was driving for landscaper Michael G. Libin of Pocasset. The load, said Durkin, was off of one and a half lawns. The landscaping company he works for has cleared about 30 of 150 lawns so far, he said.
“This is my favorite season,” said Donkin. “I was born in late October. I’m a fall baby. This is my favorite time of the year.”
And Mike Hirtle of Falmouth said, “This is my second load. I’ve still got four more piles at home, but that’s for another day.” Hirtle said, of the annual leaf collection, “I look forward to it. It’s something to do. It’s part of the rhythm, you know.”
Everyone had their reasons for appreciating fall cleanup.
Souza-DeMello said, “We like it because we know there is going to be quiet time in the winter.”
And as Thanksgiving approached, everyone had reasons to be thankful: their health, their spouse, the weather etc. But Bento seemed to speak for all when he said, “I’m thankful that this trailer is empty.”
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— Brian Tarcy