The horse's pasture to the East...

Monday, May 2, 2011


Not so many years ago, at least in Geological terms, Spring was the time for the Grandmothers, Mothers and Aunts to get together for the annual SPRING CLEANING. It was always said in Capital letters too... "SPRING CLEANING", with a kind of an echo behind it and maybe some movie music to bring attention to the fact that all of our houses were appallingly dirty and disorganized. (NOT! Houses were always cleaned every Saturday without fail. All dust, grit and untidiness was AGAINST THE LAW!) Naturally, being the only Niece, Granddaughter and Daughter, I was expected to not only participate, but to remember everything they taught me so I could pass it along to the generations to come. This was their idea, not mine. It was "IMPORTANT!" and I was the Last Historian, there to learn and bare witness to the Sprint time rights and rituals.

We each had our own tools of the "trade", ie. aprons with big pockets, dust clothes made from old PJ's and outgrown work shirts, brooms (I had my very own corn broom that had a shortened handle, my Grandpa had made for me), wax pastes and buckets. We didn't use store bought cleaners. My Mom was a chemist and knew the potential for contamination to the stuff being sold on the shelves of the local grocery stores. Instead, we used vinegar and hot water, baking soda and salt, real paste wax and lots of old fashioned blood, sweat and tears (mostly on my part).

They/we would descend on each house as a group. All males were ushered out the doors with little pats and "There...there." 's. Oh, how I hated my brothers and the other male cousins. I loathed them all with great passion! I wanted to be dispatched too, out the doors and into the freedom of baseball diamonds, hotdogs, hikes and bicycle rides. I wanted to be out there with them, riding on the bench seat of my Grandpa's truck, climbing trees, sliding into base, fishing...anything but trussed up in an apron with a broom and a dust rag in my hands. It was shear torture for me!

They'd laugh and gossip, spend time on me since I was so "cute!" in my new little apron that Nana had made for me, with cross stitching and French smocking on the bodice, no less! They taught me to start in one corner, take everything...EVERYTHING...out and scrub the floor boards, throw away the old and cracked things, polish the china and silver and even the gol-dern light bulbs! AAAaaack! There was no escape. This was all for "my own good" . I was going to learn how to be "the very best wife there is!" And I would do everything I could think of to get out of it. It was going to be days of serious cleaning, the old farm wife, Navy Nurse, Chemist way...spit spot and ship shape.

I would come down with mysterious ailments, easily dismissed by the "Terrible Four" (my nick name for them when it was Spring). They were all way ahead of me when it came to faked illnesses. Then I would, all of a sudden and for no reason at all, sprain my ankle. Nope. Didn't work. An aspirin and a bandage, expertly placed by my Nana, former Navy Officer and Head Nurse at Bethesda. I pleaded homework! I was that desperate. "But Mom, I have to write a story for school!" It was Easter Break (what they called Spring Break then) and there was a week ahead of us. She had me tell her the story while we worked! I COULDN'T GET AWAY WITH ANYTHING! Oh, the horror...the horror! All I wanted to do was go outside with my dog and get dirty, maybe fall down and skin my elbows...anything but clean four houses in a row.

Just between you and me, I would give anything to be "tortured" like that again. I loved those women, even when I was being taught to "be the best wife ever." I miss the noise and laughter, the gossip between the four of them as they caught up on what they'd all been doing that Winter. I miss the Doris Day music in the background and the fact that I was safe. Nothing was getting pass the "Terrible Four" when I was with them.

I also came away with a list of things I was never going to do gossip. I really don't care for it. I'm never comfortable when I'm with a group of women and I listen to them talk about someone who isn't there. It invariably devolves into meanness. I was also never going to clean the baseboards behind the china cabinet again either. Sorry. It's just going to have to be dusty. The dust bunnies can have the wee, tiny dark spaces until I'm ready to paint or to rehang art. And the only time I wear an apron now is in the studio. John says it's taken on a life and personality of it's own, it's so old and crusted with paint. No French smocking on the bodice either.

Instead, that need for order in the Spring has come out in my barn and in my gardens. The cob webs and old wasps nests are all knocked down, the tack and brushes cleaned and oiled, the tools all arranged on the shelves and peg boards, much to my husband's consternation! The gardens are all dressed with new compost and new seeds tamped into the soil and nursed along until I see tiny green sprigs coming up. My hands and knees are dirty and I'm outside, where I belong!

And this year we planted an apple tree too, over Gypsy's heart. And there's another one in reserve for Newman, held at the Green House for us. It's been a year of change for me. That's the only excuse I have for neglecting my BLOG. Sometimes going with the flow and accepting the way the tide rolls in takes me to a place where communication, even one as much fun as this one is, just has to wait.

But there's one thing I haven't stopped doing, and that's playing with my horses. If the wind is blowing us sideways or it isn't hailing on us, we play! It fills me up, these games we play. Lucky loves it too. Some days are better than others, grace wise, but we always laugh.

Lately I've been adding in an occasional Walk About. We go where Lucky suggests we go, although there's still an occasional Driving from Zone 5 game, or a Sideways up the driveway game or Traveling Circles to get there. He really gets into the game too, taking us to the neighbor's house or around the pond, over the berm and up into the far meadows where the grass is already 18 inches tall. We always have to stop and roll there! And, sometimes, we just stand and cock a leg, watching the sky together. He's always so soft when we do something quieter, with less pressure to learn something new.

Well... I tried to delete a failed video upload and it won't come off the page. Sorry about that. Nancy, techless wonder here.

I was trying to do a "Spring Cleaning" on the BLOG too, but that didn't work. Sure was easier when all I had to deal with was a smocked apron and Doris Day! This will either publish with a blank in the center or two videos that don't play.     ... sigh ...   No worries. The sun is out and it's time for afternoon barn chores and Playtime! Horses don't care about failed video uploads. Lucky will ground me in the real reality! Doesn't get any better than that!

More later Gaiters!    Nancy, laughing at the way things unexpectedly go!

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