Tuesday, April 29, 2008

A Sacred Art

Yesterday's entry discussed home management. Today, I'd like to elaborate more on this subject.

During my childhood, it would not be unheard of to witness what was once termed "spring cleaning" in our household. A thorough cleaning would freshen and make the house almost new again. This was a ritual every year for my mother.

If you have read Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder, you would get quite a clear picture of spring cleaning from Almanzo Wilder's boyhood description. They would literally empty the contents of their home, including the wall-to-wall carpet (Almanzo and his brother would remove the tacks, if I remember correctly), and scrub the surfaces to a gleam. According to Almanzo, this was one of his least favorite activities! Here is an account from Farmer Boy:

"Almanzo hated house-cleaning. He had to pull up carpet tacks, all around the edges of miles of carpet. Then the carpets were hung on clotheslines outdoors, and he had to beat them with a long stick. When he was little he had run under the carpets, playing they were tents. But now he was nine years old, he had to beat those carpets without stopping, till no more dust would come out of them."

Flylady attempt to make spring cleaning obsolete with her "zone cleaning" method. This entails breaking up the home into zones and choosing one zone per week as the cleaning center. Decluttering that area is the first priority. After this is done, housekeeping is in order.

I struggle with the Flylady method, however, it seems the most doable for our household. There is something I love about traditional spring cleaning, yet this is less realistic for our busy and bustling household. Our modern lifestyle frustrates the amount of time needed for spring cleaning. If my memory serves correctly, my mother would spend approximately 2 weeks scrubbing and scouring (windows, drapes, screens, carpets, walls, ceilings, cupboard/drawer interiors, etc!!!). It is more practical for me to break the day up into smaller bites of time in order to organize and fit everything in.

If you would like to read more about spring cleaning, you may want to read the book Home Comforts by Cheryl Mendelsen (a judge!). What is humorous about this book is that the author even describes her own relatives' methods of spring cleaning and how they would consider their own ways superior to the others' (the Northern European and the Italian ways). I got a chuckle at her vivid childhood recollections. I love how she holds home keeping as a sacred art.

Perhaps we should all consider this sacred art of home keeping. The routine of using our own sweat, hands, and strength to wipe, scrub, and make our surroundings new. The satisfaction of walking into an immaculately kept room and smelling the fragrant air it exudes.

It sure creates a sense of workmanship and satisfaction for moi!

To me, home keeping will always remain a sacred art.


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