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  • Pete Ryder

Yard By Yard It's Hard

The yard was at least an acre in size, and that was just the front. From the street the lawn gradually rose, stopping only when it reached a large, well-appointed house of stone and wood at the top of the hill. There was a long, asphalt driveway on one side, and a line of oak, elm, and maple trees on the other. And although there was a lot of wide open space, several large, mature trees dotted the landscape too. The effect gave wonderful curb appeal, but I wasn’t there to admire the home. I was there to rake.


It was late autumn and as a high school student with a need for some pocket cash, I had signed on with a couple families to take care of odd jobs, including fall cleanup. I had no power tools, just my young muscles and the family rake the homeowner so graciously provided. My instructions were simple… Rake the yard, and bag up all the leaves. Although I was getting paid by the hour, I wasn’t sure I was excited about raking all day. But I pulled on my gloves and got started.


I started by making piles, slowly carving spaces into the carpet of leaves, revealing the green grass underneath. After making several piles, in order to break up the monotony, I bagged up those piles before I moved on to raking again.


I don’t know how long it took to rake those leaves that day. I know there were breaks involved…for snacks…and lunch…and rest. It was tedious, and seemed like I’d never finish. I felt the effects of that day in my muscles for several days afterwards. But little by little, pile by pile, bag by Hefty bag, the yard came into view again. What had seemed overwhelming and intimidating in the morning had been accomplished by suppertime.


I’m reminded of that story, not only because we’ve just come through fall and I did some raking, but also because it’s an experience comes to my mind when I face situations that seem overwhelming. It’s also a memory that comes to mind when I think about a little quote I heard years ago: “Yard by yard it’s hard…but inch by inch it’s a cinch!”


Our lives are filled with many things that can seem overwhelming and virtually impossible at the outset. Whether it’s an assignment for school, a project at work, a crisis in your life, or even a global pandemic, we can look at the tsunami that appears to be approaching and wonder how we’ll make it through.


I’ll tell you how you’ll make it through… One step at a time.



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