Dates for those seasons can be a little flexible. At some point between mid-October and Christmas, all the leaves will fall off the deciduous trees in southeast Michigan. Predicting exactly when the leaves will fall is impossible. Weather, temperature, rain and wind are all factors affecting leaf drop. And the trees, to spite us, take turns shedding their leaves to extend the cleanup as long as possible.
At some point between late October and New Year’s, the first measurable snowfall will coat southeast Michigan with white. Historically, the first measurable snowfall in southeast Michigan is due Nov. 15, but the storm Oct. 19, 1989, delivered almost three inches a month early.
Just as inevitable as fallen leaves in autumn and snow in winter are complaints about leaf pickup in the communities that provide that service.
For the record, Emterra, the city of Port Huron’s latest low bidder for trash pickup services — which includes sucking up all the fall leaves — isn’t the first to face criticism.
For every homeowner who remembers Marcotte so fondly, a few comments from the TalkBack archives:
.Angry Homeowner on Armour Street, Port Huron: “This leaf pickup stuff is crazy. … Anyone else having issues with Marcotte not picking up leaves like they’re supposed to knowing they fell at a later time?”
.No Name: “We as taxpayers pay for this leaf pickup. These guys are coming by at night. They’re leaving more than half of the leaves on the boulevard. …”
Leaf pickup complaints don’t end at Ravenswood. From 2015:
.No Name: “Here it is, a mid-November morning in Marysville. Piles of leaves have been sitting out there for weeks, and now they’re getting covered with snow. It’s going to be a beautiful spring with all these sloppy leaves all over the place. …”
Before we complained about Marcotte, we had World Waste Services to kick around:
.Jay formerly from Port Huron: “I want to comment to Rose from Port Huron. It’s not Waste Management that is leaving your leaves, it’s World Waste Services. Port Huron switched to World Waste about a year and a half ago to save money, but we got poor service to go with that. … Waste Management would have picked up on Saturdays and Sundays if they were behind. … I guess you get what you pay for.”
In 2002 — you guessed it — the complaints were directed at Waste Management. We still think it is astonishing that Port Huron (and Marysville) offers curbside leaf vacuuming. What is even more amazing is how many people complain about it.
— Times Herald (Port Huron)
Drive carefully out there
Recently, the first real blanket of snow settled on our yards and roadways. In the first three days, we’d racked up 50 car crashes and five related injuries in Grand Traverse County.
That’s pretty normal for the first “winter weather event,” authorities tell us. Apparently we don’t mark the occasion by transitioning into safe winter driving. You’d think we’d be used to it by now.
Michigan has the dubious honor of being one of our country’s top states for deadliest winter driving, along with other Great Lake states like Ohio, Indiana, New York and Pennsylvania. But while many of us may not have been 100 percent ready for the drop — see you next spring, garden hose — we can prepare now for the season’s driving conditions.
The Department of State and the Michigan Sheriffs’ Association recommends:
≤Making sure your car is in good working order, including fresh wiper blades, if needed, proper tire inflation and topping off the tanks of antifreeze and window-washer fluid.
≤Keeping a car emergency kit containing a blanket or warm clothes, flashlight, jumper cables, rope for towing, shovel, sand or litter for traction, emergency radio and snacks.
≤Slowing down and allowing greater travel distance between you and the cars around you. Give yourself more room to stop, and pump brakes gently to slow down.
≤ Letting people know your travel plans, your route and when you expect to arrive.
≤If you get stuck, use a shovel to dig around the wheels and undercarriage. Make sure the exhaust isn’t plugged up. Don’t spin the tires. Turn the steering wheel side to side to clear away snow. Use the rocking method if that doesn’t work and gently ease the car out.
Because, if there’s anything to be learned by the seasonal spike in first-snow crashes, it’s that the re-learning curve can be awfully slippery.
– Traverse City Record Eagle