It happens every autumn. They invade my neighborhood in Dix Hills suited up with ear protectors, eyewear and noisy gasoline-fueled blowers strapped to their backs. They're the leaf herders.

Hour after hour, with their long tubular arms, these crews fan out across suburbia. They corral defenseless leaves and then dump or suck them onto trucks. They then quickly move on to the next wild herd.

The funny thing is that once the herders are gone, other leaves seem come out of hiding and quickly return -- blown down from the trees or over from neighbors' yards.

This year the gardener who cuts my grass offered me a "fall plan" for more money that called for total leaf relief.

I have long questioned the Long Island ritual to remove all evidence that our trees have leaves, so I declined the offer and decided to take action.

I know in certain circles my decision would be cause for concern. However, it is based on three guiding principles: reduce air pollution, reduce oil consumption and reduce noise. Quiet!

I decided to employ something I call a kinetic energy device -- a rake.

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It was quiet, less expensive, healthier for me and pollution-free. It's hard to make a direct connection, but the price of crude oil is down from the high it hit in September.

Now I know this would not work for everyone, but it would be nice to have more raking, less blowing -- and a leaf or two left behind.

Reader Allen Schwartz lives in in Dix Hills.