Not unlike a needle in a haystack

Like finding a needle in a haystack

I grew up on a farm and have encountered plenty of hay, but I have never had an occasion to search for a needle in it. Still, it doesn’t take much imagination to grasp the meaning of this simile even without direct experience. To search for a needle in a haystack is difficult.

At the moment, there is something more prevalent than hay in my life that is causing me difficulty: piles of leaves. Our fair city was supposed to start the “final” leaf pick-up two weeks ago. I’m not certain when the “first” pick-up began as the same piles of leaves have been around since late September. I have yet to observe the “three crews working through out the city at all times” in my neighborhood. That means leaves are obscuring the sidewalks and all of the their imperfections as I walk my dog. It also causing me another problem:  I can’t find crap in these leaves.


pile of leaves photo: Autumn leaves pile-of-leaves.jpg

Pretty, but what are they hiding?


Before heading out on a walk with my dog, I’ll grab and stuff plastic bags in my pockets. I believe that all responsible dog owners should pick up after their pets, so I go out prepared. Yet, when Roscoe relieves himself in a pile of leaves, I’m having a hard time fulfilling my, er, duty. I really want to be a good citizen and pick up his feces, but I’m having a hard time finding it in all the leaves. It’s like looking for a needle in a haystack.

The knee-high piles started out as beautiful, multicolor mounds of red, orange, yellow, green and brown. The colors have all faded to shades of brown that only exacerbate the issue.

Plus, with each passing day, there is less daylight. It is dark when I walk my dog in the morning. It’s dark when I walk him again in the evening. The street lamps are few and far between and not always lit when my dog pauses to poop beneath them. It is so dark that I can’t see crap.


After sniffing and turning and turning and sniffing, the dog will finally determine the perfect spot for his poop. I try to memorize the spot, but Roscoe starts inching forward. If I’m lucky, he creeps all the way to the edge of the pile so I can easily find and clean up the poop.

I haven’t been that lucky.

What actually happens is that small turds drop in multiple locations in the dog’s wake. The distinctive “plop” is muffled by the sound of dry leaves crackling under his paws. Once he finishes, he kicks his hind legs to cover it all up. It is impossible to locate the debris hidden under leaves in such limited lighting. Try as I might to dig through them with a bag-covered hand, I just can’t uncover the crap. I might randomly grope and grab, but my only reward is a handful of leaves.

I feel guilty not cleaning up after him. If I can’t see the excrement, then neither can pedestrians who might step in it.


This morning, I was running a bit behind schedule. I had the dog’s leash, two bags of recyclables and a box of cardboard to put out at the curb in my hands when I exited the house. I planned an abbreviated route for Roscoe and me so I wouldn’t be late for work.

Despite the short stroll, I had walked the dog long enough that he was ready to go. He squatted over the largest and oldest collection of leaves in the neighborhood. Luck was on my side when he did his business. Not only did he hunch near the edge, the poop remained on top of the leaves. Plus, there was enough daylight to clearly see what I needed to pick up. I reached into my pocket for a plastic bag.

My pockets were empty.



Distracted with the recycling, I forgot the plastic bags. I begin to panic. Just walk away, I tell myself. Plenty of people do it. No, no, no, I chide myself. Come back after work with a bag. Yeah, right. Like you’ll remember this by then. Heck, I joke, even if you do remember the doodoo, the leaves will probably have it covered by then.

The leaves. The leaves. The leaves!

My nemesis becomes my ally. I find three oak leaves larger than my hand. I take a deep breath and use the leaves to pick up the poop and carry it home to my trash can.

Thankfully, I found a completely organic, biodegradable solution to my problem.

I’ll be more thankful when the city finally completes the “final” pick-up because there is nothing harder than looking for poop in a pile of leaves. Except maybe looking for a needle in a haystack.


I’m thankful that the Yeah Write Challenge Grid #83 is open. I’m linking up with the bloggers over there to see if anyone gives a crap about this story.

19 thoughts on “Not unlike a needle in a haystack

  1. Good on you for being a responsible dog walker! We had a fenced yard when we lived in town, so letting the dogs out meant opening the door and scooping poop on the weekends. Then we moved out into the country where there is always poop in the yard and who knows who left it there. We get visits from every dog who breaks out of their pen, deer, opossum, raccoons, chickens, cats, etc. etc. etc. I just tell the kids to watch their steps and check their shoes.


  2. I bugs the poop out of me when people don’t pick up their dogs doo doo! In our wacky little suburb, you get ticketed for violating. Plus, you can’t see the poop in the leaves. I have used big leaves myself until I can make it to a park’s trash can. Fun story, Cynthia!


  3. I so hear you! Our leaf pick ups were delayed due to Sandy. They are everywhere. Luckily, my dog does most of his pooping in my yard (he is trained to go in mulch only) or the woods, where it doesn’t matter if it’s not on the trail!


  4. I’m with the jay train…don’t want to pick up poop, so no dog. Well, also because I’m a cat person. But I’m glad you take your pick-up duty seriously! Unfortunately a lot of people don’t.


  5. Leaves and dogs do NOT mix. Either they’re dragging leaves in on their fur, or you’re finding the poop you missed when the leaves stick to your shoe. One year I asked for a leaf blower, thinking this would be the perfect way to clean up leaves and not accidentally stick my hand in a poo pile. That theory worked great – not at all. Turns out leaf blowers can blow turds too.


What do you have to say about that?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s