The day that I start to clean and open up our screened porch is one of my favorite days of the year. This past Sunday was that day. It is important to note that I actually do the screened porch cleaning in 2 shifts: there is the initial cleaning, and later, the deep cleaning.
The initial time is when I use my spray cleaner and paper towels, and wipe all of winter's dirt and spring's pollen off of the table and chairs. That was what I was doing on Sunday. I couldn't find my regular cleaner, so I settled for Windex. It was appalling (as it is every year) to see the filth that came off on my paper towels -- it was a mix of brown, gray, and greenish yellow (I'm fairly certain this last one was pollen). I pulled out the cushions for the chairs, wiped them down, and attached them to each chair. I conned one of my family members into helping me bring the wicker loveseat and cushions up from the basement and out onto the porch. I got a broom, and swept for what seemed like hours, but was realistically more like twenty minutes. Cobwebs, dead insects, dirt, dried plants from last year -- they all left the porch on Sunday. It's amazing how much junky stuff can accumulate on the porch since October!
Then, I added the homey touches -- 2 new ferns, a lantern with a candle, colorful pillows for the wicker loveseat. When I was done, I lit the candle for a while to get the wonderful vanilla scent wafting around on the porch. I sat on the loveseat, snuggled up on the pillows, looking at our backyard, admiring all the lush plants this spring has produced.
So, why is this such a big deal for me?
Our screened porch is where I live in the summer, and knowing that time is coming soon is a lovely anticipation. I eat breakfast out there every morning after exercising, and leisurely read through the newspaper. I eat lunch out on the porch, where I savor a good book along with the good food. Every night, our family dinner is on the porch -- there is something about being outside, away from distractions, that allows us to linger, talking about important things and everyday, mundane things in such a relaxed setting. We catch up on the threads of each others' lives. When I have any kind of paperwork to do, rather for home, college course work, starting big thinking for the following school year, or now for this year, staying caught up with my blogging, the porch is where I do that. With the overhead fan stirring the warm summer air, I have also been known to take some wonderful naps on the porch! In the evenings, after our leisurely dinners, my husband loves to check in on his beloved baseball team, the Cleveland Indians. That relaxes him, but for me... not so much. So last year, I added a side table and lamp to the porch. That allowed me to utilize the porch up until the time to go to bed, and read, read, read!! I was so relaxed by bedtime.
It's also a great place to entertain. The lively conversations we have out there with friends and family, again away from electronic distractions, have been delightful! In fact, next weekend, I am hosting my side of the family for Mother's Day. I know we will congregate on the porch, all wanting to be outside in comfort, and in each others' company.
Our screened porch is my oasis for 3 months. It is the resting spot where I can rest, refresh, and revitalize myself. That is why the cleaning ritual is so important to me each year. It is the signal that I have some pressing business for the next five weeks or so, and then I can take care of myself and my family on my oasis, on my screened porch.
For more "slices", head on over to Two Writing Teachers.