DELMARVA ALMANAC

Alternatives To Spring Cleaning

by Dana Kester-McCabe

The time for spring cleaning arrives on Delmarva at the same time as it does everywhere else. And it is now that time of year.

Like everyone else in the world we have gutters to clean, branches to pick up, and dead things to be cleared from the garden. Inside there are windows and floors to be scrubbed. Cold weather clothes and blankets should be washed and stored. All those things in the attic and storage closet which have not seen the light of day for five years or more are calling out to be weeded and thrown away.

If you think I am about to introduce you someone who is an expert at particular cleaning problems we have here on the peninsula, I hope you will not be disappointed when I say that I am not. And, it would actually be really laughable for me to give anyone advice on cleaning. I must confess what my family already knows. I probably hold the title for worst housekeeper in the family. Wait. Let me amend that. I do hold the title for worst housekeeper in the family. I would say that because I am a woman that I am a particular disappointment because it is still expected for women to succeed in this area. But gender stereotypes do not apply in this situation because by and large the men in my family are all better housekeepers than me. So I am at the bottom of the list no matter what.

During spring cleaning time, my talent is not for tussying the place up, but for coming up with ways to avoid that form of labor at all costs. There is nothing particularly unique to Delmarva about my particular failings. But I really like failing at them here on Delmarva. If you feel the way I do about housework here is a list of spring activities just for you.

First up is thrifting. When everyone else is clearing out their unwanted accumulation of unnecessary bric a brac, that is the time for you to go out and get more. I am not a huge shopper. But while everyone else is clearing things out the pickings get much better at local thrift stores and flea markets. During May there are yard sales almost every Saturday. You have to get to them early. If you arrive after 9am all the good stuff will be gone. And those of you who are on the road at that hour beware of cars suddenly swerving to the right to park or to the left to a u turn for an unexpected tag sale.

If getting up early on a the weekend to shop is not your thing, Delmarva has a really good crop of antique malls, consignment shops, Good Will, Salvation Army, church and charity thrift stores. While supporting any number of good causes you can find great things for your summer wardrobe, new picnic furniture, and any number of other things you did not know that you can't live without. Visiting one of these warrens of stuff stacked high to the ceiling is like going on a treasure hunt. You never know what you will find there. You can easily use up an hour or two in any of one of them. That's time not spent cleaning mind you. And you have to go regularly to find the best deals. One warning, some of those places will have more dust and grime than the house you are escaping. You may need a long hot bath when you get home.

Next up is beachcombing - First and foremost during the Spring you want to get out of the house. Who isn't sick of those same walls and that pile of papers that needs to be sorted? Now that it is daylight savings time, the sun streams in your window and wakes you up at an unforgiveable hour. I know we have established that getting up early on your day off is not preferable. But you may as well get up because dawn, especially after a spring storm, is the very best time to head to area beaches to go shelling.

I've already seen some photos on social media of some major hauls of great big beautiful whelks collected on our shorelines. Besides shells you will find other treasures like drift wood, or sea glass. Ironically, this is also an opportunity to help with some beach cleanup. It is always a little dismaying to see all the trash that washes up. So make sure you take a bag for rubbish. If you're not cleaning your house the least you can do is pick up a few pieces of junk from the beach. That will help assuage some of the obligatory guilt you have for going to the beach instead of doing chores.

This of brings me to the subject of taking a hike. This is not just a metaphor here. Yes - you are escaping the confines of your home to shirk your household duty. But you are also getting some much needed exercise and fresh air. Your loved ones want you to be healthy - right? And while on that hike there is so much to see. We talk a lot about birding on this show, so you won't be surprised to hear me say walking in our area parks provides an opportunity to see some really beautiful wildlife.

Finally there is kite flying. Delmarva really is a great place to fly kites. Because we are near the water, we regularly have prevailing breezes which are perfect for keeping ones kite aloft. You'll need a wide open space like a local park or beach. You can buy a kite or make one from things you find around the house.

Now if you have been paying attention you will notice that not one of these things involves using an electronic device and most of these can be done for free or very little cost. Some are not really even that self indulgent because they are good for your health or the environment. And none of these things need be done alone. So drag your spouse, life partner, roommate, or a friend outside to play and procrastinate on the chores for one more weekend. Call it a chore that must be done before the other chores, and think of it as good personal maintenance. I know I do.

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