I couldn’t bring myself to go inside. After a long afternoon hike, I had come home to some unfinished business.

I hauled a big blue tarp out of the garage and started raking leaves onto it. The mature maples and oaks around our home were all but bare now. Already, we had mulched or hauled away most of the leaves they produced last spring. But a fresh batch had accumulated in the lee on the south side of the house.

I raked like a man possessed until the tarp was heaped high with the crisp wisps of summer. I twisted the corners of the tarp together and trudged toward the woods behind our backyard. When I had delivered my payload, I went back for more.

I was on a mission. I had a vision. I wanted my rectangular patch of the planet to look like all those buttoned-down farmsteads we pass when driving west to hunt each October. I love the squared-away look of those farmsteads — the manicured green lawns, the recently retired combines, the Shredded Wheat stacks of hay bales, the long white tubes of stored silage. Everything ship-shape, squared away, snugged down.

Ready for winter on the northern plains.

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I came back for another tarpload of leaves and marched off to deliver them to the woods. I leaned into my load. My stride had purpose. I off-loaded my cargo near the woodpile and headed back for more.

The air was cool and dry, the kind that reminds you of deer hunting and watching high-school football.

When I was through with the hauling, I fired up the mower and marched it up and down the backyard, windrowing and mulching the fallen leaves. So satisfying. Look at all that brown and gold organic clutter disappearing beneath my humming Honda. Look at all the clean green turf revealed in its wake.

Am I the only one who takes such pleasure in this seasonal ritual? I think most of us derive some deep-seated pleasure in these final fall chores. Those leaves gave us cool shade all summer long. The least we can do is give them a decent final resting place.

Of course, we all understand the ultimate motivation for this buttoning up. It’s our way of saying to winter: “Do what you have to do. We’re ready for you.”

Our snow shovels are queued up. Our snowblowers are tuned. Our roof rakes are ready.

Let's see what you've got.

Sam Cook is a freelance writer for the News Tribune. Reach him at cooksam48@gmail.com or find his Facebook page at facebook.com/sam.cook.5249.