Spring Cleaning

Every year about this time, we get the urge to go through the basement and garage to rid ourselves of the things we haven’t used much in the last few years. Clothes that don’t fit, threadbare furniture, old skis and sports equipment. After a long winter, it’s time to freshen up all the rooms and wash the dusty windows.

The first place where I usually start is the garage. It was supposed to be a woodworking shop, but it’s covered in so much sawdust that I can’t quite make out all the accumulated paraphernalia: the lawn mower, patio furniture, Xmas decorations, bicycles, etc. buried in a careless pile of debris. Why, I wonder, do we build two-and-three car garages, only to cram them full of our stuff? In the past 25 years, my cars have never seen the inside of my garage except one winter in the mid-90s when I temporarily stored my Honda Accord. The garage was always meant to be a wood shop, not a place to park cars. But it has morphed into a catch-all for everything under the sun.

Every spring, I discover more things that my wife has added to the collection. Old rockers that need fixing, a gigantic sports tube to pull behind the boat that we don’t have, more Xmas wreathes. The whole dusty, disorganized scene is so intimidating I don’t know where to begin.

My first instinct is to give stuff away. We’ve tried holding garage sales before, but to us, they are too much work. We wind up hauling the leftovers to the thrift store anyway. So I haul what I can out into the yard to brush off and take to Goodwill. That’s a start. I marvel at the enormous assortment of things we’ve accumulated over the years but never used.

At this point in my life, with no children living at home, I would like to eliminate the “fluff” — the extra things that fill up a house, the tchotchkes, the cute little trinkets in the windows. I would prefer to surround myself with far fewer possessions, those of a higher quality. Perhaps several pieces of handmade furniture, a premier music system, good lighting such as salt lamps for ambience, a few special framed photos and paintings on the walls, and certainly a few shelves of well-chosen books. This way, we could possibly downsize our domain and have less to clean and maintain. Simpler would definitely be better.

Of course, I am well aware that this notion to simplify is easier said than done. But I will have to start somewhere. So it’s back to the dusty garage again to wade through my worldly possessions. If I can just get motivated, I know there’s a will to succeed. Now where did I leave that Shop Vac?