Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Spring Cleaning

There is more to the season than cleaning cobwebs from corners, although that is an excellent metaphor for what many of us are doing with regard to our personal and professional time at this time of year.

When my family lived in Maine, Spring weather arrived several weeks later than the rest of the country. As evidenced by this year’s snow fall on the ‘technical’ first day of Spring, the state of Maine, most northerly of the lower 48, has a long winter. Once in a while, that long winter can be from first snow in October to first thaw in April.

My home town under snow, a typical Maine winter.
In one such year, the house was closed up with snow covering the ground floor windows. The front path was dug out to the road and the snow piled six feet high on both sides. My elder brother used the surplus to build an igloo over the slope leading down to the sidewalk. He dug openings at the top and at the bottom where it opened to the road.

At that time of year, there was no real danger of any child ending up under the wheels of a passing car on Lincoln Street, but the thrill of shooting through the igloo and onto the icy road kept us outdoors and sledding for weeks. Since I was never keen on snow, this was a boon to my mother who preferred all  play to be restricted to the outside, no matter what the weather.

This particular winter, the back parlor had been used earlier for our Christmas celebrations. The wood-burning kitchen stove was used to heat the upstairs bedrooms through ducts into open grills in the floor.  Ducts were closed to the back parlor to keep other rooms warmer.

Spring cleaning meant that all the windows in the house could be opened as soon as the patches of grass were at least eight inches wide and more numerous than the piles of snow. Several doors to rooms on the ground floor had not been open since the first signs of winter and others had been closed since Christmas.

My mother began her cleaning and airing out from the attic. The kitchen was the center of family life and had already been cleaned but it was mid-April before she reached the back parlor. Our Christmas tree stood in the corner, all ornaments and lights intact, four months to the day after it had been decorated. Under the tree, instead of presents, was a thick pile of reddish brown needles.

My mother had better things to do with her time than cleaning house. 


  1. Oops, hit published before I was ready. I was trying to say how neat your blog was today. I can smell the wood-burning stove in the kitchen, but I can't imagine spending a winter snowed in! Wow. I live on the Gulf Coast and we get cabin fever if we have just a couple days of freezing weather.

  2. Good for your mother. Cleaning isn't what makes a house a home. Love the picture of your home town.

  3. My sister-in-law has a magnet on her fridge that says, "Cleaning a house with kids in it is like pushing sand when the tide's coming in." Since there's still snow in my neighborhood, spring cleaning is definitely still a few weeks away.

  4. I love sprimg cleaning. to me it signals the beginning, a renewal, not to mention chucking out ahole bunch of stuff I should have tossed months earlier

  5. Hi Leigh--
    What a lovely picture of your childhood memories... and the sledding through an igloo... what fun!!