Menlo Park is quiet at night, if you don't pay attention too closely, but during the day, it seems that there isn't a block that does not have some kind of gasoline powered gardening tool running. They are everywhere, as is the on-again-off-again impunity of the tool's wielders to tease with the promise of silence the creative writer, the reader, the artist OR WHOEVER NEEDS PEACE OF MIND TO DO HIS WORK!
Menlo Park doesn't have the trade-off of thousands of unfolding stories. If anything, the stories are more or less the same -- well-to-do couple moves in, has kids who go to great schools, works in high tech so they can afford to live here, and aren't home when all the noise is being generated.
What's wrong with dead leaves in a yard? What's wrong with simply raking them up and/or sweeping the street in front of your house with a broom -- as if particles of dirt and leaves on the street in front of one's house matters at all to anyone? Whatever happened to garden shears and their pleasing clack-clack-clack?
I can't afford Manhattan, but I would choose garbage trucks every night all night in a New York minute over this suburban obsession with the absolute cleanliness of one's yard, one's street front, and even the uniform quality of dirt beneath one's shrubberies. Unbelievable.