What do oak trees and driving have in common?
Obviously, you don’t want to hit a tree with your car, or have the tree hit you. The chances of that happening are slim to none, rising only slightly higher if you’ve had a few cocktails or you’re motoring through a tornado.
In this area, the more common driving hazard during the autumn months have to do with oak tree leaves. In particular, the ones that now line our residential streets in piles sometimes approaching three to four feet high.
Here’s the deal: Royal Oak has many trees, mostly oak trees. Most of the trees are over a hundred years old, meaning most of them are enormous. Enormous trees equals a heck of a lot of fallen leaves.
We have two oaks in the backyard, and several smaller other species scattered about. My next door neighbor has eleven oak trees in her yard, and of course leaves do not fall straight down and stay there. We lose count after bagging thirty or so, and that’s after mulching the majority of the pile for compost.
Royal Oak provides the periodic removal of leaves. Every couple of weeks, a giant truck with an even bigger vacuum comes by to suck up the residents’ leaves. Of course, the residents must first rake the leaves into the street. Imagine if you will our already narrow streets becoming more narrow as the vacuum truck makes the rounds only once every couple of weeks.
Driving though the maze is rather treacherous. From first person-removed experience (I’m relating the experience of my oldest child), I can tell you it can also get pricey.
One year my son drove through a pile of leaves and hit something. It was a log he didn’t see because it was covered in leaves. Imagine if you will an oil pan with damage. Two other occasions of casual leaf driving resulted in fire. One was inside the front hood (sparks fueled by — what else? dried leaves) and the other was inside a brake housing (again, dried leaves). One car was irreparably damaged and the other was put out by the local fire department who warned against the practice as they were dousing the flames.
When driving through Royal Oak, the best policy is this: Do not drive through leaves! Even if you have to wait for traffic to clear to get through the narrow one lane left, it’s much better to be safe than sorry.