Monday, March 8, 2010


During the last few days while the sun was shining and one could tell with certainty that Spring was approaching, I had a few minutes of reflection in my days. It happened to me as I was sitting and having coffee while gazing out of the one of three big windows that are in my kitchen eating area. You see, these windows were quietly screaming to be cleaned after the harsh winter that they have just gone through. This time of reflection and the dirty windows, led me to thinking back over the Springtimes of my life.
"Springtime" as a child and a young teen meant...Spring house cleaning. Now some of you, perhaps many of you may ask, "what is that and what does it involve?"
Spring house cleaning for our family and many of the families in our community and county, meant that you stripped each room of your house to the bare bones, and scrubbed everything! By everything, I mean...
...putting all the furniture into the middle of the room and scrubbing behind it all.
...removing all of the cushions from the sofas and chairs and vaccuming them thoroughly.
...removing all of the curtains from the windows, washing, and ironing them. Washing every window and shining them until not one spot was to be found. My mother was quite the inspector! If I remember correctly she would use my dad's old undershirts and vinegar mixed with water, to clean the windows...inside and out. Then those spotlessly cleaned and ever so perfectly starched curtains would be hung back on the rods.
...every light fixture would be cleaned. Every rug would be washed. On a sidenote to this...when she was a teenager in her home, her dad would carry out all of their rugs, hang them over the wash lines and beat them with a broom. They did not have vaccum cleaners so this was one of their Spring routines.
...in our kitchen, we would remove everything from all the cupboards, wipe out every cupboard with hot water and soap, make sure everything was clean to put back in the cupboards and organize it all.
...this was done in every room of our home...every Spring, without exception.



I grew up with a mother who to this day, knows what CLEAN is, and that is due to her mother who also knew what the word CLEAN meant. And me...well, after years of helping my mother, and summers spent helping my grandma clean her home, I quess I know that clean concept too, although I must admit Spring housecleaning is now only a part of my past.
Yes, it is the gloriously beautiful time of the year when all nature is coming alive. And, yes I have been reminded that my windows do need to be cleaned. But...my world has changed, and the concept of Spring housecleaning does not create the feeling of dread that it used to in my younger days, because it is no longer a part of my days.
My mother did tell me that this cleaning concept originated with the fact that the homes were all heated each winter, with coal stoves. The stoves created a black type dirt over the entire home, thus creating the crucial need for the annual Spring housecleaning.
Was this a part of your childhoods? Or, was it only in our part of the country?

This beautiful African violet does not have anything to do with Spring housecleaning, but I thought I 'd share this photo with you to let you in on another small nugget of info about me. I cannot grow these plants!!!
A dear lady at our church gave this lovely, treasured violet to me. She said it has become her good friend and she wants me to have it. I shuddered at that thought, but graciously accepted her kind offer. She included very specific instructions on it's daily care.
In a few short weeks, it was quite obvious that she had made a huge mistake...the African violet was near death. She requested that I give it back to her and that she would revive it. So that is what I did. When she got it back to vibrant health again, she insisted that I try again. Second time did not work either for me. All that to say...I was not created to raise African violets, no matter how much instruction I may receive.
It is Monday morning and I have so much work waiting to be done. I am so thankful for the sun that is shining, the warmer tempetures and for each one of you who takes the time to stop by and visit this blog. Whether you do Spring housecleaning every year or not...whether you raise shelves of thriving African violets or not...I appreciate you and your visits more than you could know.
Wishing you a profittable and rewarding day!

11 comments:

Shelley said...

Hi Judy! My Grandma was big on "airing" out the house every spring. Somehow it never passed onto me and my mom! And I sympathize w/ you over the African Violets. My mom has the magic touch - I already killed one of hers. Hoping she givings me a 2nd chance w/ a new one - lol! Happy spring to you Judy!!

Love Being a Nonny said...

i know all about Spring Cleaning...though I never knew why it was called that. Your explanation makes sense to me. I don't clean windows like I should...it's such a chore!! I would like to have the windows that fold inside for cleaning. That is next on our list of home improvements!

Growing African Violets are impossible for me too. I have tried it several times under different lighting, etc. Nope. No. Nadda.

Happy@Home said...

Your post today brought back memories of spring cleaning. As a child I remember going to my grandma's house on Mother's Day. All of the aunts, uncles and cousins would be there. The women would clean house from top to bottom and the men did the yardwork. My job was always to pick up the black walnuts before they mowed the lawn. This big cleaning was greatly appreciated by my elderly grandmother who had raised 6 children by herself.
While I do like the thoughts of an immaculate house, my standards have slipped quite a bit.
I had never heard the reason why people cleaned so thoroughly in the spring and found your mom's definition to be interesting.
I hope this Monday is the start of a great week for you, Judy.

Marty said...

Yes, spring cleaning was as sure as the sun rising. It also included rearranging the furniture in the living room and/or bedrooms.It was a yearly highlight as a child - to go to school and come home to find the living room and/or bedrooms rearranged. I love the smell of opening windows, cleaning away the grit and grim and letting fresh air blow through the house. My mother would also add a fall house cleaning that included screens up/storm windows down and other things to prepare the house for closing it up for winter.

Thoughts on Life and Millinery. said...

When there has been three generations that grew up in southern California, where spring is year around, there was no need for spring cleaning! Everyone just kept up with everything year around, but did a little extra during the Christmas season for guests.

I think that before vacuum cleaners and washing machines, housewives basically just dusted, and then really tackled the heavy cleaning only once a year. Sigh. I clean every Friday...floors, windows, rugs, laundry. Wonder what it would be like to only do this once a year?

(PS: The Jewish Passover time required a total house cleaning to be sure there was no leven anywhere in the house. Since leven is always used as a symbol of sin, it was also a time to get rid of sinful ways as well. Maybe we should consider that as we go about "spring cleaning" nowadays-part of Lent?)

sonja said...

Oh yes Judy, we had the same drill at our house growing up! Spring cleaning... what in the world has happened to me that I don't do it just that way anymore?? I love a clean house, and yet...

Maybe now that the sun begins to shine again, I'll be motivated to really 'hit it!'...

Thanks for sharing this. I did look at the windows the other day and I KNOW that has to be done... soon!

Hugs!

Sonja

Ashley said...

Pretty post Mom! Makes me want to do some Spring cleaning and set some bouquets of flowers around! Your house is always so fresh and beautiful in the Spring!

Country Dreaming said...

I wish I had 1/2 the motivation your Mother had to spring clean.
Just thinking abotu it make me itch and want to sneeze.
Things will get cleaned here but on a lower level than our parents and Grandparents did it.

Melinda

Cottage Cozy said...

Oh...spring house cleaning indeed...I look forward to it!

Charli and me said...

Hello Judy,
I do have a spring cleaning list that I keep in my computer. I pull it out once in the spring and once in the fall. I used to get it all done in a matter of days. Now it takes me a week :>( I have never been big on washing walls but I do most of the rest of it. I have always cleaned my windows with lemon amonia water and cloth baby diapers. It really makes them shine! I was just looking at them the other day and realize it's almost time to take them apart again. I feel like I'm getting to old for this :>) Where is my energy.... Plants die in my care. I don't know why that is. I just got a plant for my birthday and I'm hoping it will survive the next coming months.

Cherrie said...

Oh I loved spring cleaning when I was a child. I remember we would remove the wool rug and have a beautiful waxed linoleum for spring/summer. My mother had summer drapes and we would store the heavy winter drapes after they were cleaned. Everything looked so different with spring slip covers on the furniture.
I enjoy your blog!

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