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Monday, May 5, 2014

Spring Cleaning


Spring Cleaning
This morning my mother pushes the windows open and  fresh air rushes in.
One moment my brothers Pill and Buzz, and I are lounging around in our p.j.s rereading last Sunday's comics and the next we are propelled up and to our rooms. Get dressed! Sneakers too!

Teeth brushed and hair combed out the door we stagger blinking in the sunlight. We're logy  as bears emerging from  hibernation.  We turn as one and press our pallid faces to the storm door.
Our mother is moving fast, scoping up laundry, gathering up shoes and old newspapers. Dishes and silverware clatter into the sink.  Nimbly she hops upon a kitchen chair and down come the yellow gingham curtains.  Now she is swabbing the big kitchen window with vinegar soaked rags and squeegeeing them dry with newspaper. 


Whining nets us a big fat zero. Go play! Find something to do or I'll give you something to do!

Although  winter has turned us into junior zombies we are not dumb. It is easy to think of some of the things Mother might find for us to do. Discretion  being the better part of valor we  remove ourselves from Mom's line of sight. Around the side of the house to the front porch we shuffle.  Slumping down on the steps we huddle together and do our best imitation of Poor, Cold, Abandoned Children just incase Child Services drives by. We imagine a stern lecture being delivered to Mother on the importance of allowing us to consume large bowls of sugary cereal while we watch hours of Saturday morning cartoons.


If you move around you won't be cold. Mother calls from the living room window which is now getting the vinegar and newspaper treatment.


We are not, we realize, actually cold. In fact it is warm in the sun and being Martyrs is boring.   Before long Pill and Buzz are trying to climb the dogwood  and I am playing hopscotch. When some neighbor kids arrive a game of tag begins.  Soon  faces are flushed from warmth and exercise.  There is a softness to the ground as we tumble on it. Winter coats  pile up on the steps.

By mid day there are sheets on the line, the bath mat is airing over the back porch railing. In the house doilies  and vases of flowers have appeared.  Crisp white sheers  have replaced heavy winter drapes.  The windows sparkle and the house smells of furniture polish. The yellow gingham curtains are back on the big kitchen windows.


We are playing tag when Mother calls us. She is standing on the front porch. Our spring jackets are in her hands.   




Groaning at the interruption  we stuff our arms into last years jackets impatient to return to our game. Pill thinks he has got Buzz's jacket by mistake but he hasn't; he has grown over the winter.  He clowns in the too small jacket, we laugh.


Winter has been put away as simply and as surely as Mother has put away our winter coats, hanging them in the back of the big hall closet where we cannot reach them.   Our spring  jackets will hang on the hooks by the backdoor now.

There is a look in Mother's eye that will take me thirty years to understand.  She thinks  she sees us a step farther down the path that leads  away from her.  It will take her thirty years to realize that our paths are circular, and she is always our center.

There has been a shift, but not, as she worries, away from her.  It is a simple shift of seasons. We are so young the seasons take us by surprise. The days have drifted by and now, magically, it is warm enough for shucking heavy coats. 

(Remember to click on the images to enlarge and save)

  It is that Spring of childhood which has nothing to due with the calendar. In fact we are so young it is impossible to think in terms of months or seasons.  It is only now that we are outside playing in the sun that we notice how green and bright  our little world looks.  Spring  is a bright and shiny miracle.

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