I am sitting at my desk, which overlooks a lovely neighborhood. One of the best money can buy. The leaves are golden. The air is crisp. My head is splitting.

It's like a large buzz saw has been ringing in my ears for the past hour. At first I didn't even notice it . . . like a dream. Then I became aware that something was really bothering me . . . and I snapped awake. But there is no relief. No escape. I've closed all of the windows . . . I've retreated to the next room. Nothing helps.

And what has changed my quiet neighborhood into a wretched place that sends dogs running? You know it. You've heard it too. It's the continuous high-pitched drone of The Blowers From Hell.

These things usually don't upset me. I can read the newspaper with the television on without a problem. The flight path to National Airport is just off to our right, and I've gotten used to that. But this. This is different.

It's incessant. It's all-encompassing. . . and it's really loud.

And I'm thinking that I used to love this season. I would long for it during the hot, dog days of August. As a kid growing up in the Midwest there was nothing like it . . . the golden afternoons. And they were golden. You felt alive, and happy. Everything seemed better.

The food was fresher. School was more fun; my social life picked up with the big dances in high school. Even the holidays were preferred. Memorial Day and the Fourth can't hold a candle to Halloween and Thanksgiving.

So now? Now I live in dread of the faceless men who move up and down, back and forth, methodically pushing the leaves from one corner of a yard to the next. The noise grows louder as they get closer. When they retreat to the back yard, it doesn't help. It's still there. Even after they finish, tossing their hideous machines into their open-cab trucks to go on to terrorize another neighborhood, it doesn't matter. My head still throbs.

I'm even happy the days are shorter. I figure they have to stop at some point after 5 or 6.

It's now 6:10 p.m. It's dark out. Why don't they stop?

I want to meet the inventor of this wonder of the 20th century. I want to thank him for making the quality of my life so much richer. I want to tell him what he's done to my favorite season. Thanks, buddy.

I want to hit this guy with a blunt instrument to make my point. I'll hit him with an antiquated device used when I was a boy. One that today's kids will see tomorrow in the Smithsonian next to the scythe and the anvil. I'll bop him with a rake.

-- Warren Kozak