Around the bend: Rare sunlight exposes chores to do

Last Friday, Mother Nature gave us a treat: nice weather.

The warm breeze and bright sunlight came as an unfamiliar surprise to county residents, who, upon stepping outside, squinted skyward and blinked, disoriented, much like Punxsutawney Phil on Groundhog Day, but without the media attention. Was it time to wake up?

Like most winter-weary Vermonters, I delighted in the break from the cold. I found breathing in the beautiful fresh air filled me with a sense of well-being. I’m not really the “bursting with joy” type, but while the sun was shining I definitely stopped swearing under my breath at random strangers. It was that kind of day.

I came home from work Friday afternoon to find the house bathed in a glow of natural light. My first reaction was awe. I had forgotten how the place looked fully lit, plus I spotted my black shoes right there under the end table. I had been looking for those suckers for months.

My second reaction was horror; the slanting afternoon sun exposed things I wasn’t prepared for.

On a good day, our house wouldn’t pass a white glove test; on a bad day, it wouldn’t pass a Health Department inspection. But on this day, the long angle of the sun revealed a den of filth that violated even my low standards.

Every speck of dirt was visible. Toast crumbs on the counter, left over from breakfast, cast shadows two feet long. Light glinted off a grape jelly smear on top of the microwave. No big deal — or was it? We had been out of grape jelly for at least a month.

I saw now, with mounting anxiety, that the black shadows across the tops of the door casings were not, in fact, shadows, but rather five months of accumulated dust and dead spiders. No matter where I looked — the walls, the floors, the switch plates — it was all hideous.

Everything in the house looked worn and tired. Almost nothing had changed from day to day as we had plodded along in the cold-weather rut of sleep-work-eat. The place needed some serious rejuvenation, if not outright demolition. Immediately.

I threw open some windows, pushed up my sleeves and got started transforming the dingy, dull house into a bright, clean haven. Why? Because it was spring!

Well, no.

By Saturday morning, Mother Nature had cancelled the glorious weather, dropping the temperature by 50 degrees. It was her way of saying, “Ha, you didn’t think I was serious yesterday, did you?” She’s playful that way.

But those few hours of spring-like weather had changed my outlook. In spite of the return of the cold, I was ready to kick the winter blahs.

All weekend I went crazy with the dusting and scrubbing and shining. I weeded out old clothes and ratty towels, I washed the shower curtain, I vacuumed the cobwebs off the cleaning supplies. In short, I did all the things that most people do as a matter of course but that I tend to wave off with “I have got to take care of that one of these days” — by which I really mean “Hopefully we will move before I have to take care of that.”

I rearranged furniture, rotated knick-knacks, and moved photographs. I touched up the dining room baseboards with fresh paint. I put away the Santa cookie jar that had been hanging out on the counter for two months, looking more uncomfortable every day.

I even bought a few yards of cheerful yellow calico to make bathroom curtains, although I didn’t do any sewing. (I know better than to tackle that kind of project while in such a heady mood. It invariably ends with me beating the sewing machine with a yardstick when one curtain panel turns out 14 inches too short.)

The temperatures may have plummeted back into the single digits, but I’m not giving up. No matter how cold it gets or how much more snow falls, I will continue to think spring. This weekend I’m going to shake out the area rugs and flip the mattresses and decorate the house with brightly colored throw pillows.

I’m also going to make sure the shades are pulled down. I love the warm afternoon sun, but nothing ruins a good mood like seeing a toast crumb throw a two-foot shadow.

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Addison County Independent

58 Maple Street
Middlebury, VT 05753

Phone: 802.388.4944
Fax: 802.388.3100