Spring Cleaning

Spring Cleaning

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?



  1. Here are the comments that accompanied the original post.

    Submitted by Lesley (not verified) on Thu, 05/08/2008 – 21:10.
    At about 12 my Mom gave me my first ‘plot’ in the garden. By 15 that whole baby was mine and I adored it. Alas, when spring comes I have no garden. I love going to Lowe’s or Homedepot as much as my boys. I drool over pots and tools and plants and …sigh. I imagine the day that I can have an enormous garden all my own again. Luckily My hubby drools over bigger grills and lawnmowers so we have a similar dream. Until then, my spring cleaning involves reorganization, but I do that just about EVERY season because its my ‘control’ of choice. If everything has a place then I feel better. I organize when I’m stressed, but it also means things get cleaned in the process. I can’t organize in filth. Therefore its ongoing. No special treatment for spring, except maybe the tops of those kitchen cabinets, but mostly because all the sunlight shows all the dust on my glassware. Ick. z

    Submitted by Candy (not verified) on Wed, 05/07/2008 – 00:18.
    I actually do both! I love to open the windows and air out the house while I go outside myself. I reserve the "spring" cleaning for the rainy or cold days where you just don’t want to be outside. Then I go to town and dig into the deep dark corners of the drawers and closets. Just today while everyone napped and I couldn’t get outside, I scrubbed the kitchen counters and floors, ridding them of piles of mail and magazines. Later on, it’s outside I go! But I don’t garden, so I’m outside going for walks, playing with the kids, riding horse or bike, etc.

    Submitted by Cheryl (not verified) on Tue, 05/06/2008 – 22:16.
    I use to love spring cleaning. My mom took the summer months off from doing alterations and ironing. So, towards the end of May we use to have everyone elses stuff out of our house. We’d clean and get organized and then swear we would never let it get bad again. It always did but we had a couple of relatively neat months. I still use May to go through the stacks and piles we talked about a few weeks ago. It’s amazing what turns up. This year there are a lot of ex boyfriends stuff. Oh well, off to Good Will! This is usually the time of year to go out and buy stuff to help me get organized. Lasts a couple of weeks, sometimes longer, then I slob out again! But I love to at least try once a year. Guess it shows people are basically optimistic, or ignorant! Enjoy your time in the gardens. My gardens consist of a couple of potted plants near the window. It’s only taken me two years to find some plants that Cat will leave alone!

    Submitted by Michelle (not verified) on Tue, 05/06/2008 – 17:29.
    Spring cleaning around here mostly means airing out the house. I fling open the windows and change out the ‘scents’ in the potpourri pot. My mom has posted on that topic before. I change out our music collection stacked up by the CD player to light classical, up beat irish and some of the more folksie kid music. But like my mother… I really take to the outdoors instead. Who wants to be inside when their are babies being born on the farm, ponds thawed out for finding frogs and even the mounds of leaves forgotten last fall that need to be dealt with… etc. My gardens are hardly noteworthy… but I am preservering. I can barely move these days from unearthing rocks in the garden beds. Who in their right mind ever fills a garden bed with rocks?! Right now I am managing to clear about a 1′ by 2′ space in 2 hours (muttering many not so ‘witty’ suggestions of ‘stoning’ the previous owners). At this rate I ‘might’ be able to actually start planting something come July. LOL.

    But back to the question at hand… my major cleaning/sprucing will come in the fall. Most of my household projects have a ‘by Halloween deadline (actually ‘before the Pumpkin Carving Party).’

    Submitted by Sarah (not verified) on Tue, 05/06/2008 – 16:48.
    Hehe! A constipated drawer. You’re so funny but I know exactly what you’re talking about. Spring cleaning was a huge thing with my mom which shouldn’t be surprising but I have to admit I LOVED the way our house smelled after it. I do spring clean. I love opening all the windows, scraping all the built up dried on food mush from the kitchen chairs and airing out the mattresses. It just feels like spring. Now my mom also did a summer cleaning, a fall cleaning, followed by my least favorite winter cleaning. That’s when she had all the carpets cleaned and it would take about 4 months before she’d let me eat or drink anything outside of the kitchen. So, one vote pro spring cleaning here. I’m not much of a gardener, I have a couple of window boxes which is enough for me, but I am cleaning up sand everyday from the sandbox! Enjoy your week all!

  2. You are so funny Kimara. I love your writing style. As for me, I’m a cleaning maniac in the spring. Walls and carpets, everything. I can’t think about the out of doors, except for the lovely smell of opening windows and doors, until my house is ship shape. I’m sure my children share your sentiments as a child!

  3. I’m with you. The spring IS all about being *outside* for us as well and that’s when the house does get messier from people tracking things in, to the wind blowing in etc.so why clean then??? plus I want and need *time* in the gardens and the outdoors not in the house hehehe.

    I like the very thorough Autumn cleaning like you, before the house is all closed up for the winter months.

    What I try to do in Spring though is to change things around and freshen and lighten up the house for the warm months ahead.

    I am also not a very strict house cleaner anyway. I sort of live by this quote: “A creative mess is better than tidy idleness.”

    Love your blog!

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