Residents of Southampton gathered in a large hall last week to demand that the mayor ban gasoline-powered leaf blowers throughout the year.

“There are often anywhere from three to six blowers working in tandem outside our door,”According to The Southampton Press, Orson Cummings was the filmmaker. “We can’t think straight and enjoy our lives.”

“You’ve been bombarded with hundreds of emails and letters, and you’ve done nothing,”Someone else said it. “What’s taking so long?”

Many others demanded action.

Mayor Jesse Warren chose to wiggle. “There’s a lot to be considered,”He said.

They looked at each other.

It is clearly wrong to ban gasoline-powered leaf blowers in July and august. In those months, leaves stay attached to their trees. The ground begins to become a mess in October. Leaf blowing is legal.

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Is there a leaf-blowing cult? They have threatened the mayor to continue with this seasonal restriction. What’s next? What’s next? Let’s not be so stingy!

The Southampton Press reported that the mayor said he’d like to set up some kind of public forum to discuss the issue and hear from people on both sides of the debate, reinforcing his waffle and putting an end to the discussion.

What’s the deal with leaf blowing? It is absurd. For millions of years, the northern hemisphere’s leaves were gloriously colored and then fell to the ground in October. Suddenly, now it’s a problem. These leaves must be blown off wealthy people’s properties. These properties were expensive. They want them to be in perfect condition. This is a huge boon for landscaping businesses. These 20-horsepower gasoline engine are strapped on to the backs of workers. Then they put noise-cancelling earmuffs on their ears, turn on the blower tubes, and let loose. Things get blown from hither to yon, and then, if not picked up — another operation entirely — get blown from yon back to hither, and customers get charged for a second time.

There are tensions. On occasion, the workmen blow the leaves to the edge of a homeowner’s property and then, after looking left and right to make sure nobody is watching, blow them up in the air and across the property line to become the neighbor’s, after which they cackle and waddle away.

That is what I suspect happened to Orson Cummings, the filmmaker. We all know that he makes his movies with Ben, his brother, who confirmed the leaf blower assault. Ben and he are sitting in their home, mulling over their ideas when they are suddenly interrupted by a whole army working men making loud noises as they blow leaf and debris high into air and drop it onto the Cummings lawn.

Leaf blowers are relatively new. Before leaf blowers, landscapers used to use rakes. Rake, rake, rake. We all got along.

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Are you a part of the 2004 Leaf War? The air was filled with ear-splitting leaf blower sounds for hours.

This was back in the days before gasoline-powered leaf blowers. Before that, both East Hampton Town and Southampton Town had operations that helped citizens fight the dreaded leaf. The Southampton Town Highway Departments would list dates and times when leaf-sucking truck drivers went out to pick up leaves raked to their respective roads. The trucks hauled leaf-sucking trailers behind, which were motorized machines that turned leaves into mulch for municipal park foliage-growing programs. It was a win/win situation. The populace was patient and tolerant of the loud, disgusting munching that these contraptions did on their particular road for a short time.

However, the Town of Southampton announced that they would not be making the leaf-munching pickup a month prior to leaf-sucking day 2004. They fell to the ground, just as they had done every October. They were blown curbside like always. And they sat waiting. And then, the word came down.

It would be the same on the East Hampton side. But not on Southampton’s side.

There is a street called Division Street in downtown Sag Harbor. The white line running down its center designates the boundary between the Towns of Southampton and East Hampton. (How it happened is a different story, but one I will save for another day.

It was the night before leaf pickup day that the terrible roar of dozens gas-powered leaf-blowing machinery filled the Southampton side. Southampton landscapers, along with their leaf blowing crews, began blowing all their leaves over Division Street to the east side. The Town of East Hampton mulching vehicles, not being able to identify the origin of any particular leaf, would then inadvertently pick up the vagabond leaf from the other side.

Had this been done when using rakes was how you dealt with fallen leaves — or even if they had used electric leaf blowers, which just issue a gentle hum — the chaos that followed could have been avoided.

East Hampton police arrived to investigate the noise and discovered that Southampton gasoline leaf-blowers were holding up traffic at that hour. The police were caught red-handed. The East Hampton leaf-blowers appeared on the scene and began blowing leaves down the street to Southampton.

What a night!

How did it turn out? It was at 3:00 a.m. that an armistice was made and the sides agreed to just leave the leaf where it was without any further skirmish. Everyone went home. Southampton Town repealed their law a week later. They also mulched all the leaves on their side within a few more days.

Unmask the leaf-blowers. The Southampton residents must get their village to agree to their demands.

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