05 February 2012

Washing Away Winter (April 2011)

"Spring makes everything look filthy." 
- Katherine Whitehorn

Well, look there. That’s where my second cookie sheet disappeared to. And how’d my earring get back there? Amazing what we find when we move the stove…

I had a few requests to write about Spring Cleaning, which I agreed to address this month. To get in the spirit, I decided to begin the process for myself, starting with cleaning behind my stove. Not too bad back there; the expected dirt and dustballs, and only one tiny, dessicated shrew.

Why start with my stove? Well, partly because it’s easy to move, which makes it a simple success. But cleaning baseboards is also a quick, easy success, and I didn’t choose to start with them. I began in the kitchen because I associate Spring Cleaning with Passover, when we remove all the chametz (anything that has or can leaven) from the home. I am by no means thorough or orthodox in my approach to cleaning for Passover (technically, I’m not supposed to start until the new moon), but it’s as good an excuse as any to get behind the stove and wipe down the cupboards.

I have a friend who used to give me a hard time because I sweep my floors (almost) every day. But I can feel the difference energetically when I sweep; it lifts and removes not only dirt, but the energy that has drifted to the floor and begun to stagnate. Spring Cleaning removes a winter’s worth of stagnation from our home. It’s when we open the doors and windows, shake out the rugs, and wash everything we can think of – when we sweep and rinse months of cooped-up energy back outdoors.

Spring Cleaning is also one of several opportunities throughout the year to get a fresh start, to begin with a clean slate, if you will. Some people consider our inflated (risen) egos as another form of chametz. Which means that this time of year can also be a good opportunity to take a thorough inventory of ourselves and to remove the stagnations and impurities, the inflations, from within. Who knows? Maybe when we look inside – like when I looked behind my stove – it won’t be too bad, and we’ll even find something valuable that we’d thought we’d lost.

Tip of the Month

Remember: being clean is NOT the same as being organized. I’m organized. But living in the (muddy) country with four cats and heating with a wood stove makes it near impossible to keep my house clean. Tidy, yes. Immaculate? Hah! I don’t even try.

Still, being organized makes cleaning easier. Less clutter means less obstacles and less work. And applying a couple basic principles can help. Specifically, Keep It Simple Sweetie encourages us to:

Make a list of the projects we want to accomplish (so that we don’t have to hold it in our head, which can be stressful and ineffective).

Then do them one at a time spread out over time, rather than exhaust yourself trying to do them all in one day.

Principle #12, Ask for Help, is another life-saver. This can be anything from sweet-talking a strong friend into moving the fridge to coercing the kids into wiping down the baseboards. Or getting your good buddy to come over and keep you laughing while you work. If you can afford to do so, you could also hire someone to Spring Clean for you.

Quotes of the Month

All Nature seems at work.
Slugs leave their lair

The bees are stirring, birds are on the wing,

And Winter slumbering in the open air,

Wears on his smiling face a dream of spring. -- Samuel Taylor Coleridge

This outward spring and garden are a reflection of the inward garden. -- Rumi

Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes. -- Carl Jung

Strive each day to make your life purer, richer, and more luminous. You will subtly and imperceptibly lead all of creation heavenward. -- Omraam Mikhael Aivanhov

Recipe of the Month
Southeast Asian Shrimp/Rice Noodle Salad

Chop and lay out on a large platter:
One small head of lettuce (I use red butter)
A healthy handful of fresh cilantro
Several sprigs of fresh mint

You can also add a grated carrot and/or sliced green onions.

Top the vegetables with approximately 4 ounces of cooked rice noodles (Maifun).

Cook shelled shrimp in a dry skillet. (I am generous with the shrimp, usually allotting 9 or 10 for each person. Wood’s Wild American White Shrimp is especially delicious, and wild caught.) Place the shrimp on top of the cooked noodles.

Drizzle dressing over the salad, and sprinkle with toasted peanuts.

Dressing: (adjust to taste)
2 Tablespoons fish sauce
6 Tablespoons lime juice
1 teaspoon sesame oil
4 teaspoons sugar
grated ginger

No comments: