Dust is Visible in the New Light of Spring

Spring water           One day years ago as a relatively new bride I returned to the apartment I shared with my then husband and our baby to find my father sweeping the rug.

“What are you doing?” I asked him.

“Cleaning the rug,” he replied.

“Oh,” I said. I didn’t have a vacuum and didn’t know any other way to clean the rug. Now I did. I had never seen anyone sweep a rug before. My dear father smiled at me and suggested that perhaps Santa might provide me with a vacuum. I don’t remember if he did or not, but my father bought me my first washing machine some years later. He was a generous man. Also, I never saw him do any cleaning in the home I grew up in, so his sweeping was a great revelation to me. I have never learned to love housework but I have learned to do it more efficiently–except for dusting.

While I welcome spring and the new light it brings, I also recognize the need to dust. The new brighter light coming from a sun now, in the Northern Hemisphere, higher in the sky shines on all the surfaces in our apartment that have been neglected over the winter. Dusting is not my specialty. I have a tendency to get impatient or careless and damage or knock over items on shelves and surfaces. Stephen is far better at dusting than I, and thankfully he is willing to do it—in his own time. Sometimes this means waiting a bit.

Spring cleaning has a long, honorable history. I am thankful I do not have to haul my rugs out, drape them over a clothesline and beat them with a rug beater. These are now antiques. I remember them as being woven out of wood, like baskets, in the shape of several round circles intertwined. They had handles and were sufficiently sturdy to raise the dust from the rug and into the air to land heaven knows where—hopefully not back on the rug.

Before central heating or cleaner electricity and oil as opposed to wood fireplaces and coal furnaces, a good housewife washed down room walls every spring to remove grime from smoky fires and particles of soot delivered from heating vents. I remember coal being delivered to a coal bin in the cellar every fall. Now an oil burner has replaced that coal furnace. Cobwebs too needed to be removed. Windows had to be washed. Ammonia was in common use for cleaning them in days gone by. Horrid stuff! Now a vinegar/water spray does the job.

I am grateful for my vacuum cleaner, for the size of my apartment that needs much less work to clean than either of my past houses, and for a helpful husband who is willing to clean with me. The only thing I remember my dad cleaning was the silver. He polished it all himself because my mother would not. It is also true that we often had a cleaning person come; yet sadly it was my mother’s nature never to be satisfied no matter how well the job was done. I am grateful both that it’s not a hundred years ago, and that spring is on the way.


Fall In Its Variety

Fall in its variety fills the air with bright, brimming over with an ecstasy that brings us joy..

Fall gold 2The light shines upon the leaves and it reflects into our hearts.

Fall leaves 13 4 Then the leaves dance and their brightness makes us sing.

Fall Gold 3 Singing fills the air; light  glistens echoing our song.

stonewall and leaves 2 Until we too sigh and sweetly lie down to rest.

A Light on the Subject

Having the correct tool for any job is a great help toward successfully completing it. I’m definitely a tool person; I have a large collection of implements that I have accumulated over the years. Some of my most important ones are kept in plain sight right on my kitchen counter. Most of these are assembled in several open containers where I can reach them easily when I need them.

However, if you were to ask me what I consider one of my most valuable kitchen tools, I would say, “My flashlight.” Does that sound odd? Perhaps it is, yet when I need to locate an item on my shelves or even more importantly in my overcrowded refrigerator, the small bright penlight flashlight I keep on my kitchen counter is exactly what I need.

I don’t remember when I acquired the penlight. I believe it was a gift, and I bless the giver every time I use it. It saves me a lot of time looking for items by helping me check the backs of the open shelves I use as my pantry in our efficient but small apartment. It saves me even more precious time otherwise spent removing items from the ‘fridge in search of what may be on another shelf or in another part of it.

My refrigerator tends to get crowded with useful leftovers, important condiments, and things I make ahead to provide for quick, easy meals. Then too it holds various things to drink, like iced tea, a staple for Stephen, and carrot juice, one of mine. As well it holds the ingredients for the foods I make from scratch: cartons of chicken and beef broths together with alternatives to dairy milk…the list goes on.

As well there are other uses for my penlight elsewhere in the apartment. If I drop something tiny in the bedroom it is much easier to locate it with the use of a penlight. The focused beam sweeps over the floor and helps me to locate that dropped earring back or small ring or earring without getting down on my hands and knees. I didn’t always know this, and I don’t remember when I figured it out, yet I am delighted that I do now. As I get older I appreciate discovering ways to make life easier and more comfortable.

Shedding light on anything increases its visibility. This can be metaphorical or actual. When I shine the light of my understanding on a situation I can see more clearly how to deal with it. Information is a form of light as is good advice. The more we can see, the better we can judge what we need to say or do.

There is an amusing teaching tale that goes like this: A man came across another man searching the ground. “What are you looking for?” he asked. “My ruby ring,” replied the searcher. The second man joined him in his search. Finally he said, “Where did you lose it?” “Over on second street.” “Then why look here on third street?” “Oh, the light’s better here,” came the reply. To me the point of this story is that effective searching requires light.

Door of Mystery

Door Into Mystery

Photo and Text by Tasha Halpert

Homely Beauty

There is beauty to be found where least expected:
in dried blossoms clinging to bare bushes,
in the twisted intricacy of a naked tree
against an autumn sky slowly dimming.
Beauty smiles from wrinkled faces remembering
as old eyes gaze at small children and listen to their laughter.
I applaud the homely for its quiet elegance
its small soft voice bespeaking a unique and special loveliness
like a cracked pitcher that belonged to a great-aunt
or a rusted iron fence gleaming in the sunset glow.
These warm my heart and draw my eye.
I cherish beauty that goes unnoticed
amidst the flash and filigree that draws the crowd.
I want to embrace and caress the tattered and torn
that form patterns of valor against the starkness of harsh reality,
precious beauty, quiet, shy, and velvet rich to the stroking hand.

Photo and Poem Copyright Tasha Halpert 2013