CORNER WINDOW by Jeff Hartzer
#015, March, 2008
When it comes to life lessons, I am an ‘old school’ musicologist. Ever since listening to my little red transistor radio while doing my outside chores of yore (many yores ago), I have taken to heart the lyrics of muscians. Recently, when beginning to take action on a long list of Spring cleaning shores, I recalled for myself an ancient song by Neil Young called, “Like an Inca”. In this song Neil sings, “If you want to get high / build a strong foundation.”
Our old home built in 1910, and our business in a renovated building built in 1930, are both prime targets for Spring cleaning advocates. With the Big Dipper now overhead at night and our clocks sprung ahead, thoughts are pointed toward Spring with a natural urge to clean up, out, and over. The key though is not found in the ‘urge’ but rather lies in the ‘taking action’ part. Awakening from winter time is a task in itself.
Taking that Neil Young song to heart, I decided that the best place to begin my Spring cleanout would be in our home’s basement . Call it a root cellar, wine chiller, or an overly large ‘crawlspace’, no one will ever really see how clean (or dirty) it is except me and the Supreme Beings. Nevertheless, it is where I began my journey to cleanliness.
After blowing up ‘sandstorm’ dust conditions with my trusty ‘shop vac’, my thoughts wandered to catching hantavirus. The CDC tells us that the deer mouse is the primary ‘reservoir’ of hantavirus pulminary syndrome in the USA. Our basement existed long before hantavirus was discovered so naturally I thought myself to be immune. [Don’t try this at home without a respirator or grandma’s hanky over your mouth and nose.] The dreaded deer mouse disease first appeared in cases near the U.S. Army’s Ft. Wingate and only came to the public’s attention after it had been closed down. Seems oddly ironic that Ft. Wingate was a military chemical weapons repository. Cough cough, wheeze wheeze...There’s just too much to think about while cleaning up our dusty [Hey, it’s a dry dust.] crawling spaces deep deep in our foundations.
There’s another song that lends hope to basement cleaners. It is called, “Mysterious Ways” by those Irish minstrels, U-2. In that song, Bono sings out, “If you want to kiss the sky / better learn how to kneel.” It is not easy to begin Spring cleaning in your lowest, darkest place. Once you are done though, all the leaf raking and weed pulling outdoors won’t feel like projects from hell anymore. Instead, after you emerge from your (now clean) crawling space of wintertime, those blue, blue skies overhead and the last sounds of birds heading true North again, will make Spring cleaning seem absolutely heavenly. There is a struggle in birthing and a joy in emerging.
Happy Easter season. Now that our crawling spaces are clean, we’re off to Chimayo.
Jeff Hartzer © 2008