Molly Fisk: Fall Cleaning

6002540458_7979843192_zPhoto by Martie Swart via Flickr (Creative Commons License)

You hear a lot about so-called “spring” cleaning, but in my opinion autumn cleaning makes more sense. In spring, people want to be outdoors romping around. It’s great to wash the frost stains off your windows and air out the quilts after a long winter of living indoors, but other than that, who has time for cleaning?

In the fall, though, everything has to be gathered up from yards, decks and porches and stored someplace, so why not clean while you’re at it? Learn to only handle things once, says my office guru, and I think this applies to lawn chairs as well as receipts for tax-deductible bridge tolls.

Now granted, I haven’t always felt this way. If you interviewed my nearest and dearest, they’d laugh so hard they wouldn’t be able to speak. The vision of me wielding a can of WD-40 to loosen the bolts on a yellow motel chair is not something they can fathom at any season. Pre-emptive repairs? You’ve got the wrong girl. Last year a friend had to come over and put my mower away because I couldn’t manage to get it out of the rain. I can darn socks and mend seams. I can make any combination of leftovers delicious. But give me responsibility for something big, and I freeze. The more expensive it is, the colder I go. Somewhere along the line my nervous system decided I was a bad risk for taking care of what matters.

However, this fall I’ve already gotten the outdoor mattress under cover, and it was only rained on once. Another pass around the yard and I’ll drain the mower’s gas, drive it into the shed and close the door. I am even, don’t faint, going to tarp my woodpile.

What has happened to me, you ask? How did the Good Witch of the North get a hold of my conscience? Well, I stopped automatically rebelling against advice and began evaluating it instead. It finally occurred to me, after years of taking care of myself, that some things are easier than others, and it isn’t always what looks easiest that is. I used to not cover my woodpile because it was too much work, and usually raining by the time I thought of it, anyway. I’m not a lazy person, but in the face of everything else I had to do, it just seemed easier to let it go.

Finally, somewhere in my calculating left hemisphere, I added up the real expense of burning damp wood—inefficient heating that necessitated buying more of it, chimney cleaning, the risk of fires—and decided taking 20 minutes to cover my woodpile could save me time, money, and grief. Now I’ve gone a little wild and I’m loosening stuck motel chair bolts in order to tighten them more securely.

That way next spring, when I drag this baby onto the deck, I won’t have to do anything but sit and watch the new green leaves rustle on my sour cherry tree.


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  • Jessica October 19, 2015 at 10:25 am

    Oh, I wish I could handle with all that like you! I just started fall cleaning at home, and I have no idea when the yard’s turn will come. Thank you for this post anyway 🙂

  • Molly Fisk September 20, 2015 at 10:35 am

    Have fun, Leslie! It always takes me less time to do than it has taken me to procrastinate about, and I am a demon for setting kitchen timers in 20 minute segments just to get started. Yes, El Nino’s got me very much on the prowl for things I want to get ready.

  • Leslie in Oregon September 19, 2015 at 4:54 pm

    Congratulations on your preparedness, and thanks for the inspiration. I’m aiming to do a better job at getting major yard cleanup work done before the rains start (if they do indeed start this unusual year)…