Raking leaves, Sir Ontzlake reflected, is much overrated, especially in the wind and rain. He’d been trying to read, but the maples outside the garden kept throwing down their soggy leaves one by one, like gauntlets, and so, with knitted brow, he’d taken up his rake and gone forth to meet them like a man. He was bundled up under his armour (a good knight is always prepared for attack) but some of the rain got through, and it was the kind of rain that had no right to be rain – snow in rain’s clothing, he thought. It was unfairly cold.
He raked furiously for a while to keep warm. After a while a gust came up and he swooped down with his rake, meaning to corral any escaping leaves from an existing pile. The pile was duly squashed, but the leaves bunched up on the end of the rake, as wet leaves will. Shaking the rake is no good, he thought, The leaves are all wet and they won’t come off. But he shook it anyway, and frowned when it made no difference. Every book he’d ever read that mentioned raking leaves made the activity seem joyous and frolicsome. Some of the illuminated books even showed depictions of children jumping into piles of leaves. Like jumping into a garbage dump, he grumped, while he raked up slugs and poisonous mushrooms with indiscriminate swipes.