Are you into this? Such a cliché, the expression “spring cleaning,” and I never consciously set out to do it. But here I am, again this March as I do every March, sorting through unnecessary paper on my desk, disposing of expired food in my pantry, weeding winter-weary clothes from my closet. I tell myself that as the days get longer, it’s just an issue of my having an excess of energy – and if that reasoning doesn’t work, I tell myself that after spending so much inside time during the winter, my mind is the problem. It’s cluttered. I need to air it out, which means streamlining what I see.
BTW, that’s what I do regularly with my desk. I have trouble creating new words, sentences, plot twists, when the top of my desk is a mess. The last thing I do when I leave the office at the end of the day is to streamline this one working space. But we’re talking neatening piles, not true cleaning.
Honestly? In the case of spring cleaning, for me, it’s mainly a case of old habits dying hard.
Oy, The Cleaning
March brings Passover thoughts, and Passover in my childhood home always, always, always involved cleaning. Yes, closets were pared down and rooms aired out after months of closed windows. Torn sheets were either mended or discarded; outgrown dresses were handed-down. Above it all, though, the kitchen was Ground Zero. Since we kept a Kosher home, we had two sets of dishes year round, one set for milk and one for meat. Come Passover, those dishes had to be removed, every cabinet wiped down, and two sets of Passover dishes (and utensils) – one for milk and one for meat – put on the shelves in their stead. It was an exhausting job, and that, even before Passover food prep began.
In fairness, back then the women in my family didn’t work outside the home. I do, so to speak. And I don’t keep Kosher. As soon as I was married and had a home of my own, though, I took over the job of making Passover Seders, and I did it not for one, but for the requisite two nights my father wanted. He’s gone now. We only do one Seder, and if it isn’t the first night, it’ll be the second or fourth or sixth. Finally, too, I’ve passed the torch to my sons and their wives. Still, I clean in spring.
Other religions have spring cleaning rituals – like the custom of Catholics to thoroughly clean the church altar on Maundy Thursday, the day before Good Friday. Or the traditional house cleaning done by followers of Greek Orthodoxy on or around the first week of Lent. But for many, it’s just a practical thing, a clearing out of winter’s clutter and making way for new, green growth.
My spring cleaning this year has special significance. We just sold our lake house! If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve seen dozens of photos from there over the last twenty years, many of them sunsets, one different from the next. Now it’s time for different views – and for a new, wonderful family with two sons who are at the same age our sons were when we built the place.
Cleaning and More Cleaning
So. Sold! Talk about cleaning! Closets, medicine chests, upper cabinets with twenty years of soy candles, lower cabinets with assorted basketry, a garage with water toys of all shapes and sizes – we had our work cut out for us. The buyers have bought the place furnished, but anything that was torn or worn or unusable had to go. Everything personal, like family photos, came off the walls. That meant twenty large, framed photo collages, one for each year we were there.
And then, and then there were books. We had a full library there, so we culled the shelves and donated bags and bags of them to the Moultonborough library. Other books came back here to Massachusetts. But to make room for these, I had to cull the shelves here, which meant donating bags of books to this library. I made room for those books from New Hampshire that we just had to keep, and for a slew of new BD books coming in May (the mass market of Blueprints) and June (the brand new hardcover, Before And Again), not to mention the new books I’m always buying to feed my own reading habit.
I’m good now. Exhausted, but good. Clear of mess, clear of mind. Spring cleaning done an easy week before the Spring Equinox.
And you? Can you identify with any of this? Do you have a cleaning project waiting to happen? I still do. It’s a corner of the attic here in our Massachusetts home that is positively littered with the baseball cards our sons collected way, way, way back when.
BASEBALL CARDS TO ORGANIZE
This is my next challenge, but like I say, it’s the attic, which is not heated. So that project waits until spring warms the place.