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Open the Windows

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          It’s spring!  

          It’s time to prop open the back door and sweep winter out of the house.
          In days gone by, before automatic washers and vacuum cleaners were common, spring cleaning was a big annual event involving the whole family and lasting up to a week.
Rugs were pulled out of the house and put on the clothesline to be beaten. Windows were washed with vinegar water and newspapers and heavy drapes which had blocked the cold of winter were taken down and replaced by airy “priscillas” to let the sun shine in     
          Kitchen floors were scrubbed, furniture was re-varnished and paste wax was hand-rubbed into hard wood floors with a soft cloth and lots of elbow grease. Mattresses were flipped and turned, quilts were hung outside to air and pillows were renewed with fresh feathers and new striped ticking
          Finally, a new coat of paint was applied to the front porch…usually in blue or gray…and the railings and porch swing were painted a fresh white as a bright backdrop for the clay pots of pansies set out on the front steps...their sunny upturned faces welcoming all who came calling.
          Spring cleaning was hard work, but the reward was a spanking clean house that smelled of lemon oil, Ivory Soap flakes and beeswax. It was a fresh start to the year…literally a clean slate for whatever the coming seasons might bring…whether it was a new baby or a visit from an old friend. And it sure felt good.
Many of us don’t clean like that anymore. Our modern conveniences make it unnecessary or our busy schedules make it impossible. But we miss out if we don't take at least a couple of hours one bright blue breezy afternoon this month to open the back door and symbolically sweep winter out of the house.
          It's fun to make a sort of ritual of it, and as you open all the windows and let the breeze blow through the house, imagine all the darkness and cold and old worries of winter blowing out and the sunshine and warmth and new promise of spring blowing in.
     Happy spring cleaning!