Thoughts from our Editor: Spring Cleaning

SpringCleanThe strong scent of bleach, the warm softness of freshly laundered linen, the gleam of polished fixtures and newly mopped floors, all these evoke for me childhood memories of helping my family spruce up our living space each spring. Somewhere between St. Patrick’s Day and Easter, at least two whole weekends would be dedicated to cleaning our house from top to bottom.

Given that time of year is also college basketball season, one of my most vivid recollections of my formative years involve my stepfather wiping down the glass shelves of his beloved entertainment center with Windex, all the while yelling at full volume at the TV. By his estimation, three things were sacred above all: his Magnavox stereo, his record collection, and then Memphis State Tiger basketball. To me fell the task of gently dusting the covers and spines of four crates of vinyl, hoping for the safety of my hearing the Tigers played well and the refs didn’t make any “bad” calls.

Chances are, you’ve got your own memories of spring cleaning, whatever form they take. I hope, for your sake, they were less noisy than mine! When thinking about my own remembrances, I found myself wondering when exactly did the yearly custom begin, and what was the original purpose?

In this digital age, one doesn’t have to waste time wondering, so off to Wikipedia I went. Here’s what I learned.

Spring cleaning is an annual tradition that dates back to Biblical times, with evidence that the ritual of cleansing your home from floor to ceiling coincides with certain religious observances such as Passover and Lent. Purifying one’s domicile is seen as an act of renewal, of preparing the spirit for the year ahead.

As recently as the 19th century, it was recommended homes be thoroughly dusted during the month of March, however, this was for practical, not spiritual, reasons. In March, particularly in northern climates, windows and doors can be opened without fear of draughts or – alternately – insect infestations, and swift moving winds help carry dust from the home.

With the advent of vacuum cleaners and the decline of the coal furnace, it’s no longer necessary to confine these activities to the month of March. Yet, today, in 2017, spring cleaning remains a popular activity, or so I’ve been told. Domesticity has never been my strong suit. Still, even a packrat like me can appreciate the feeling of contentment and accomplishment that accompanies a truly tidy house. Clean is calm. It’s almost impossible for chaos to thrive in the midst of sterility.

While no one has ever accused me of having an immaculate house, I do have my own routine cleansing rituals. After each issue is sent to the printer, I organize, sort, and file the dozens of piles of paper that accumulate as we prepare the content of the same. Active computer files are archived in storage and copies sent to “the cloud” for back up. Databases are updated, and contacts added. Actual cleaning products even make an appearance, with surfaces like my desk and keyboard getting a much needed bath. (On a related note, our technology columnist and my husband, Eric, who generously donated his column space this issue to a last mention notice about a youth fishing tournament, insists I tell you that you should never immerse your electronics in water. He’ll be back next issue.)

Whether your home gets a carpet to drape makeover each spring or you simply take a few hours on occasion to organize and regroup your space, it’s important to also take time for what may well have been the original intention of spring to cleaning, to restore the spirit and re-energize the soul.

Happy spring cleaning! Until next month,

Carla E. Anderton