Thursday, March 24, 2011

Springing to Spring Clean

When spring starts springing, we humans start cleaning. Or at least we’re supposed to—that’s what history, biology, and society has taught us over the last few thousand years.

But if you really want to know why we get a little crazy with the rags and buckets come these first few mildly warmer days, you have to look deep into the encyclopedias. You know, they’re there on the shelf with all of the other books collecting dust.

Back in the way long ago, people warmed their homes with wood and coal heat. Their only light source was candle or fuel lamp. And certainly they didn’t have air filters and those handy quick mops that squirt out their own cleaning liquid.

Traditionally on the first warm, dry day, furniture was moved outside and a brigade of scrubbers went to town on walls, floors, and everything in between, scrubbing off a measurable reside of ash, wax, and filth.

Religiously, the preparations for the Easter season required getting ready for guests to arrive. (For some, this might mean finally taking down the Christmas lights or sweeping up the vicious needles from the tree that still linger in the most inconvenient places.)

Biologically, some say that the concept of spring cleaning is based on the extended hours of daylight. If we as animals are directly impressionable by the nature around us, the lack of sunlight makes us produce less of some fancy chemical which puts us into what I like to call “the winter slumber” and makes me really wish we did a little hibernating instead of spending months being grumpy and shoveling driveways.

But apparently some people believe that because we are so sleepy we actually don’t care about the pitiful, dirty state of our house. All we want to do is take a nap, read books, and eat soup, which makes perfect sense to me.

And then, once real daylight hits and we can walk outside without being bundled in fourteen layers and slipping on ice or frozen mud, suddenly our life awakens! We start caring about the way everything looks and feels and realize that our family has been making bodily odors inside the confines of our houses for literally months with no way for the vapors to escape.

And that’s why I spring clean.

Granted, it takes a little more than a bucket of Murphy’s Oil Soap to wash away the damage done by even one of my children after a season of calling cauliflower their favorite vegetable. But in due time, even the last of it will be released from this stink of a jail.

It goes beyond just that. There is a layer of road salt and cinders that starts at our garage door in an uncalled for thickness that then dissipates to every corner of the house. There’s also a huge pile of snow clothes that extends equally as far, consisting of musty smelling mismatched gloves and a few socks that have become so stiff you could use them to scrape up some of the cinders that have embedded themselves into our floors. There are boots and jackets all stained from leaning against a car and random snowman decorations that have been overlooked, and enough dust covering everything to make you wonder where it all really comes from.

That leads us up to this week, the beginning of a season and the most perfect time for opening the windows and blowing out the stench of root vegetables and moldy socks because before we know it, we’ll be complaining about summer heat and letting in the flies.

So raise your mops, your rags, your dusters, in honor of another year of spring cleaning. No matter your reasons for letting out the old and wiping down the new, I leave you with this new snazzy and much-needed proverb:

May your bucket be full,

Your floors spic and span,

And don’t fall off the ladder

While you’re dusting the fan.


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