It's leaf-raking time in Port Credit.

Last year at this time, our first months in a house, we had to start from scratch. We had to buy rakes, work gloves, a wheelbarrow, snow shovels - everything. This year it's a little easier.

In our neighbourhood, full of big, mature trees, the town comes by with a huge leaf vacuum. This is apparently pretty common now, but neither of us had ever seen it before. On the advice of our neighbours, we bought a tarp. You rake the leaves onto the tarp, then drag it to the curb, dump out the leaves, and they get vacuumed up on designated Leaf Vacuum Weeks.

We have so many leaves, we couldn't wait for a Leaf Vacuum Week. Last week, raking only the front yard, we filled five huge trash barrels, packed down with leaves.

This week we did just the backyard, and filled five tarps like this:

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It's so nice to work outside and have Cody with us. Last year at this time, Buster was still alive. Since he couldn't be off-leash, he'd stay inside, watching us from a window, howling and crying. So we kept Cody inside, too, just to be fair and not drive Buster completely insane.

But now Cody can hang out with us, trotting to the front as we drag the tarp, then back to her backyard for more raking.

Cody is mad for sticks. She adores them. She likes to carry them around, or break them into pieces, or just chew them until they're soggy, then find another. Sticks are all over the lawn, and as we pick them up and put them in the wheelbarrow, she comes over to investigate, looking for the best one to steal from the pile.

One spot on the lawn is Cody's special hang-out. From there, she can see if her favourite people next door are outside. It's also where she keeps her stick collection. I think of it as her toy chest. When Allan mows the lawn, he moves the sticks, mows, then puts them back.

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Cody says: the bigger the better.
You can see the garage with the back door open.
We drag the tarp through the garage and out to the curb.

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Bringing it to her toy chest.

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Stick heaven.

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Guarding her stash.

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While we are raking, Cody hangs out among the piles and keeps an eye out for choice sticks.

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Our girl is getting old! She's gotten very gray over the last year.

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