Columnist

Every year around this time, I start to see the upside of deforestation.

Oh, don’t touch the rain forests — just clear-cut a few American suburbs, like the one I live in, for example.

“A mature oak tree can produce 75,000 leaves,” my neighbor said to me Sunday as we worked in our respective front yards. The inside of my thumb was slowly starting to blister from my rake.

I don’t actually have any trees in my yard, but my neighbors do, and they are kind enough to share. Through flukes of air currents, I wind up with one of the densest leafpacks on the street.

The clock was ticking. Signs on telephone poles announced that the county leaf-sucking trucks would be by Monday. Miss them, and we might be resigned to a winter of brown, moldering leaves.

Park Rangers Mark Ragan, left, and Christopher Gwinn, dressed in World War I-era replica uniforms, pose in front of the reopened memorial for the war. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

Of course, no one had told the trees about the deadline. Most of them — especially the oaks — stingily held on to plenty of their leaves.

On Monday morning, the leaf-sucking men made a pass. After that, the wind picked up and the trees started jettisoning their leaves in earnest.

Who says trees don’t have a sense of humor? Besides everybody, I mean.

The ultimate memorial?

The District’s World War I memorial reopened Thursday after a much-needed restoration. It remains to be seen whether the marble dome on the Mall will be supersized into the nation’s official monument to the Great War.

That’s what the World War I Memorial Foundation would like. It’s what legislation that is languishing in the House would do. And it’s what Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton and the D.C. Council used to want to do, until they realized it didn’t look good for them to be supporting what could be seen as a federal takeover. Norton and council member Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) removed themselves from the memorial foundation’s board of trustees.

This has chagrined Edwin Fountain of the foundation’s board.

“My view is, there ought to be something somewhere,” he said of a national monument to the war. “Otherwise, we’re going to let the next six years go and the centennial will be on us, and nobody will have done anything.”

How about a trade, America? You can have Washington’s memorial if you give Washington’s citizens voting rights?

Traveling light

My column last week musing on the mind-set of the Naked Man of Dulles Airport prompted Annandale’s Jim Mangi to muse himself. Jim proposes an “all-natural” airline called NewDare: “Breeze through our special terminal and board one of our diverse fleet of natural-colored airplanes. Enjoy on-board music selections from the Bare Naked Ladies and food service from Bear Naked Foods. It’s a whole new meaning to ‘airstrip.’ ”

On a more serious note, Wes Davis of Conway, S.C., just returned from a flight to Las Vegas. “The boarding process was brutal and extremely slow,” he wrote. The reason: Passengers who insisted on trying to stuff all of their carry-on luggage in the overhead bins. Wrote Wes: “I have a suggestion for the airlines that would make going through security and boarding much faster. Instead of charging people to check their bags, the airlines should charge people for any carry-on luggage bigger than a bag that will fit under the seat in front of you.”

All together now

Have you donated yet to our Children’s Hospital fundraising campaign? I know, I know. We just started. The campaign doesn’t end till Jan. 6. But I do want to put a little bug in your ear (which sounds like something that would be treated at Children’s, actually), and that bug is this: If you work in an office full of congenial people, I invite you to encourage those congenial people to donate en masse.

Perhaps rather than exchanging gifts this holiday season, you could donate that money to our fund drive. Maybe you could hold a Children’s Hospital bake sale. Or simply put an empty jar with my photo on it next to the coffee machine in the break room. I won’t even mind if you deface the photo with an eye patch, scar and blackened teeth.

I’ll list your group in the column as a way of publicly saying “Thank you.”

Making a tax-deductible donation is easy. Just send a check or money order (payable to “Children’s Hospital”) to Washington Post Campaign, P.O. Box 17390, Baltimore, Md. 21297-1390. To donate online with a credit card, go to washingtonpost.com/childrenshospital.