When Mother Nature puts on her finest garb, and the hills are covered with varied hues of green and bright flowers and shrubs bloom with abandon, it gives the housewife an urge to decorate and refurbish her dwelling. When the doors and windows can be flung wide open to let the spring breeze blow in, it is time for spring cleaning.
Many conscientious housewives have probably already finished this spring task, but I've found my spring cleaning usually flows over into fall cleaning. Nevertheless, I do go through the motions, although daughter Patty does the actual cleaning. I mostly move "things" from one room to another. I guess I am a pack rat, but I'm sentimental and can't bear to dispose of anything I value. (I admit that I am the only one who does value these things, and when I am gone, then they are gone.)
Patty collects "things" too, but mostly it is clothing or articles that she thinks someone else can use. Her husband Bob made a rule (I don't know how much it was enforced) that for every bag of "things" she brought home, she had to get rid of a bag. I guess we all value different things, and I have a friend who has collected wringer washers for years. At least the things I save are a lot smaller.
It is true that if you sort out and discard a lot of "things," spring cleaning would be a lot simpler. Criss tells me every once in a while I have too much "stuff." I know he is right, but it is hard for me to turn loose of "things." It won't mean a hill of beans to anyone else when I am gone. Still, I manage to maneuver around it and clean the best I can.
I don't know why we dread this task, as we have all modern conveniences at hand to make the job easier. Curtains are thrown in the washer, then the dryer, to come out smooth and wrinkle-free. I remember back in the "good old days" when Mom would starch the curtains stiff with cooked starch, and then we girls had the tedious and painful job of putting them on curtain stretchers.
Do you remember those "instruments of torment?" They had sharp nails all around the frame, and the curtains had to be stretched tight and hooked to each tiny nail. They did look good once they were dried and hung on the newly washed windows, but there was a price to pay.
We had no carpets to shampoo, but unfinished matched flooring to be scrubbed with lye. The few scatter rugs were hung on the clothesline and beaten with a broom. Mom would paper the walls with new wallpaper -- remember the heavy Wallrite wallpaper that usually had a gray background? Sometimes it had a pattern of green ivy vines twined across it. It was fresh and clean, and we were proud of it.
The finishing touch was a vase of rambler roses and daisies, placed on the dining room table. Oh -- we got new oilcloth for our freshly scrubbed table, with the wooden bench behind it.
If this sounds like a formidable job, consider how they spring-cleaned in Mom's day. The first thing they did was to take the kitchen chairs down to Big Laurel Creek and scrub them in the water. The chair bottoms were made of split hickory, which sagged with use. After they were washed and the hot sun shone on them, the bottoms would draw up tight again.
The parlor was rarely used, although it was cleaned, also. The player piano was dusted, curtains and windows washed and carpet taken up and beaten. I don't know if the girls did their courting in the parlor or not, but it was a place for formal company. (That reminds me of an old game we used to play; it has been running through my mind for days.) It went like this, "We got a new pig in the parlor, we got a new pig in the parlor, we got a new pig in the parlor, and he's a dandy, too!" I don't think they played "Pig in the Parlor" in that room.
The old wood cooking stove got a coat of stove polish -- that was something I got acquainted with when we lived on the old farm in Jackson County. It was sort of like paste shoe polish, and it made the stove bright and shiny.
After the inside of the house was finished, the girls would work on the outside. Grandpa Hooge made a broom he called a "besom," which was a bundle of twigs attached to a handle. This was used to sweep the yard, which was innocent of grass. Then the girls (Mom, Addie and Ruby) would decorate the cracks in outside walls with chicken feathers, flowers and pretty leaves.
All these preparations had one thing in common -- home. As the song says, "Be it ever so humble, there's no place like home." It might be a humble cabin or a simple Jenny Lind house like I grew up in, but the very word "home" carries such a wealth of memories! It seems there is a longing in every heart to "go back home." It is heart-breaking to visit a nursing home and hear some of the patients begging "to go back home."
Mom told me one time that her conception of heaven was like going back home to Big Laurel Creek. That is a good thought, and although we don't know what heaven will be like, it would be a comfort to go back home.
A Prayer for a Little Home
God send us a little home,