Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Spring Cleaning

Ahhh...spring is here; the sun is out, the snow has melted, temperatures are rising, the hyacinths and daffodils are poking through...
Okay, so it may not look or feel too spring-like at this particular moment, for a winter storm is nigh, but it is springtime nonetheless and, just as in a previous posting a few weeks ago ("March Brings Cheer for Another Year" - Farmer's Guide 1800 ), there is plenty to do to prepare for it.
Here in March, the house is very dirty; the ashes and soot from constant fires for cooking and warmth - combined with the soot from candles and oil lamps - is on nearly every surface, the mud of fall and winter covering the soles of shoes are now ground into the floors and rugs, firewood chips and slivers lie throughout, especially in corners...the kitchen and family parlor (or sitting room) have been the center of activity for months, and the remnants of spinning, sewing, whittling, and other wintertime activities are in desperate need to be cleared away.
Spring has always been the time for a ritual turning out and thorough cleaning of the entire house, from cellar to attic. Each room in turn is emptied and scrubbed and freshened with new whitewash, the furniture rubbed and polished, the windows washed, the ashes removed from the fireplace, and the hearth swept and scoured. The rugs are taken up and shook, the feather beds put away for the summer and replaced with straw mattresses, wall hanging are removed and the dust scrubbed from the frames, and fresh blinds replace the filthy ones that have taken on the winter's grime.
The work involved in all of this is tremendous, but it has to be done.

Some of the winter vegetables have begun to rot, and the apples are getting soft. Mushy potatoes will be made into starch, and the winter's accumulation of fat needs to be made into soap before it turns rancid.
White garments and linens need a proper wash. The difficulties of drying clothing thoroughly in freezing weather has resulted in badly yellowed sheets, shirts, and undergarments. Linens that had been hung to dry before the fire have holes from flying sparks and need to be mended. Woolen clothing worn for weeks on unwashed bodies really smell. Flannel undergarments have begun to itch instead of providing comfort.
And how is your spring cleaning going?

(* Much of what you read here came from the excellent book "Our Own Snug Fireside")


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