CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The trees at our old house were considerate. Glorious blooms in the spring. Abundant shade in the summer. Leaves that dropped in neighboring yards in the fall.
The trees where we live now aren't so kind. I'm even beginning to suspect they plot our demise, scattering marblelike acorns by the bargeload across our sidewalk, which they're quick to cover with several inches of leaves.
It's like walking on ball bearings hidden under layers of ice.
We were told these are oaks, but we aren't certain what kind. There are more than 300 different types of oak trees. Pin oaks. Red oaks. Burr oaks. White oaks. We believe ours are of the Spiteful variety.
Much like their oak brethren, Spiteful Oaks are prolific producers of acorns. Unlike normal oaks, however, ours don't merely release their seed to drop to the ground. Our trees hurl their acorns toward the earth with enough force to embed the pods several inches into the dirt.
Or the skull. Or the cat.
On windy nights, it's like living with machine-gun fire during a hailstorm. Our dogs go for a romp in the yard and return yelping, with lumps on their noggins.
A low-flying crow was sent into a barrel roll by one Spiteful Oak that either had particularly accurate aim or a good sense of timing.
In spite of their cruelty, there are times I'm still fond of our trees. When our neighbors were mowing each weekend, our heavily shaded grass grew so slowly it barely needed a once-a-month trim. This I must keep reminding myself as I twist my ankles on acorns while wading through leaves that nearly reach to my knees.
As I stood at our front window looking out at sea of leaves that once was our yard, my arms and back began to throb in anticipation. It was time to take action. So I closed the blinds and joined my husband in the kitchen.
Geoff is a practical man, good at reasoning me out of foolish ideas, like spending a day off work raking leaves.
"There's a reason leaves fall," said Geoff. "They're meant to be on the ground. Don't you think it's a bit high-minded to be messing around with where nature intended for those leaves to be?"
"But they'll smother our lawn," I said.