It's been a while since I shared a story from One Generation to Another. This post was first shared May 6, 2008, but since spring has graced our neck of the woods early this year, and our gardens are waking up, I thought of this. I hope you enjoy it.
So, it’s spring and any self respecting Pietrowski woman (mother’s lineage) knows what that means. It’s time to turn your house inside out and give a good shake. I remember coming home from school on spring afternoons to a house in total disarray. Given the fact that my mom’s house always appeared perfect, nah, dare I say WAS perfect, to walk into a house with curtains off the windows, mattresses turned sideways, and the contents of a closest spewed across the floor was a tad bit unsettling. It also meant…drum roll please…I needed to clean MY room.
In my opinion, my mom’s “thorough” cleaning was superfluous. Best I could tell she cleaned what was already clean. I could not make the same statement about my room. Sure, to live in my mom’s house the “observable” surface of the room needed to be clean, but she was moderately tolerant of hidden messes. Although I’m sure she probably laid awake at night tossing and turning thinking about the condition of my drawers, she chose her battles wisely, and reserved enforcing her standards of “clean” for those times of the year when her sanity hinged on “total tidy” compliance! True, there were times when I’d need to grab a ruler from the kitchen to try to unjam a constipated drawer, but I knew where everything was…in my drawer! Duh! But my mom had this misbegotten idea that when you opened a drawer you should be able to view the contents of said drawer. I kinda viewed my drawers as an archaeological dig…there were layers and stratas, and digging was often involved when I wanted to find a barrette or pencil. Truth be told, I often gave up and went and got a new pencil from the kitchen. (That’s why when I finally cleaned out my drawers I’d often unearth 2 or 3 dozen pencils!) But the bottom line was, when my mother spring cleaned, we all spring cleaned! So, on those spring cleaning days, I was apt to find the contents of my drawers spilled out in the middle of my floor with the edict…“Don’t come out until your room is clean!” I have this vague recollection of being chained to a bedpost, with days or perhaps even weeks passing, with mere life sustainable rations of bread and water being slipped under my door as I labored tirelessly in my room.
Although my memory has been known to exaggerate or even to reinvent itself, I am left with a strong disdain for spring housecleaning. But who can blame me? The minute it gets nice outside, I’m like an eight year old, mucking about outside, refusing to come indoors except for sleep and sustenance. The thought of spending time indoors, after being cooped up all winter, seems downright blasphemous to me! I suppose you could use this same argument to support spring cleaning. Arguably, we are probably programmed with a biological propensity to spring clean. It probably began with Neanderthal women. I’m sure that after being holed up in a cave all winter, with dismantled animal carcasses and putrid air laced with the fumes of the unwashed hordes, nice weather finally meant a garbage exorcism and the delousing of their abodes. Understandable. But I have the luxury of disposing of noxious substances throughout the year, and the corners of my house are not stacked with discarded bones and makeshift privies! So, when nice weather rolls around, my only spring inclination is to open the windows!
Probably the main reason I don’t spring clean is…I TOTALLY trash my house in the spring! Spring means the gardens are waking up, and I’m there to greet them. It also means rain and mud, mud and rain. Short of lightning storms, come nice weather, I’m outside gardening. Tim refers to my gardening technique as “full body gardening”. I start out each day with an innocent “stroll” through the gardens. If I see a weed I very daintily bend over and pluck it. If it resists I’m apt to kneel down to give it a good tug. If it is still stubborn I pull out my gardening wagon. Next thing you know my butt’s planted in the bed and the dirt is flying. (As I write this blog I’m picking spiders out of my hair, and the dirt embedded under my fingernails is free falling into my keyboard!) Since I move and rearrange plants in my garden with the same regularity that I shower and eat, my pockets and cuffs, hair and nails, transport the great outdoors indoors! Most people have wall-to-wall carpeting or hardwood floors…in the spring and summer we live in a dirt floored hovel! I just can’t be bothered to clean!
I will eventually get around to spring cleaning… in the fall…when I contemplate the long house bound months ahead, and I look around and say, “Oh, dear Lord! I think there are pumpkins growing under the dining room table!” I’m THEN hit with the urge to shovel out the dirt, flip mattresses and wash windows. General thought…if I’m going to be stuck in the house for the winter it’s going to be in a clean house! So, for everyone with the instinctual desire to spring clean, I say “Good luck, and I hope ya have a jolly time!” As for me…I'll be in the gardens! (And, an aside to my house…“I’ll see you in the fall!”)
Does nice weather bring on your urge to clean and organize? Or does nice weather bring on an Exodus from indoors to outdoors?