Spring Cleaning, 2011
Parisians stormed out of the theater in 1913—“riot” is the word that has been used most often to describe their reaction--when Igor Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring was first performed. Neuroscientists now believe it possible that Stravinsky’s alternately calm and violently rhythmic Rite was so jarring to concertgoers’ brains that they had no choice but to flee.
We’re a little easier on spring around here, where one of the many rites of spring is the annual cleaning of the screened porch.
The porch may just be our favorite part of our house. We added it not long after we moved here and spend much of our summer on it. There’s no better place to eat, entertain friends, read a book or just have a conversation. The porch is shielded from the worst of the north winds. But it still manages to get quite dirty over the winter. Also, being located under so many trees and so close to water makes it something of a constant challenge to keep anything clear of vegetation, moss and mildew.
Some years we’ve been able to use the porch in late March. But any attempts at serious cleaning are quixotic since the onset of pollen season in April quickly covers everything with that fertile yellow powder of spring.
Besides, cleaning the porch isn’t just a matter of moving the dust around. It usually includes putting a new coat of battleship gray paint on the floor, touching up the white trim, checking to see if last year’s rain makes it necessary to replace the sisal rug and spraying every wooden surface that could possibly have mildew with a light concentration of chlorine bleach.
Stravinsky assaulted the ears of Parisian music lovers with rhythm. I assault the porch with Clorox.
Each year I swear I’m going to get this down to a more efficient process. But each year it seems the task of moving all the porch furniture outside so that it can be washed only becomes more cumbersome.
And once you get all the furniture outside, you also realize just how green and slippery the back patio had become over the winter. This necessitates yet another yet another hour or so of scrubbing with a broom, bleach and a water hose.
[If all this talk of bleach makes it sound as if we’re the world’s worst environmental scofflaws, be assured that we use it carefully and without damaging the garden or any of the birds and other wildlife.]
By the time everything’s done, the porch looks a whole lot more welcoming, but I’m usually tired and whatever I’m wearing is speckled with bleach spots. (That’s another thing you’d think I’d learn to avoid after all these years.)
I was just about finished cleaning the porch this past Saturday morning when I happened to look from the garage out to the back patio. I was waiting for things to dry so that I could haul the furniture back up onto the porch. Something in all the shades of green, though, caught my eye. For whatever reason, it seemed an awfully peaceful view. Or at least peaceful if you can ignore the whirlpool of pollen in the middle of the picture.
July on the Porch, 2010