Dirt, dirt everywhere, and not a spot that’s clean.
I think of this saying when I clean, which is EVERY SINGLE DAY at the farm.
When we had four children (count ’em, four!) at home along with a big hairy dog, we had less dirt than we do now with only one husband and two dogs. How can that be?
It is possible because now we live on a farm. And there are many ways that this dirt gets into my house.
The biggest culprit is my husband. The red clay that people around here call “dirt” gets caked into the bottom of my husband’s boots and brought into the house every single time he comes in. Sometimes it comes off in little clumps all over the floor so that it looks like Hansel and Gretel came through, leaving a trail to follow. Sometimes it comes off in big smeared smudges of moist mud. Sometimes it comes off as boot-shaped prints in a brown dust. Like a CSI agent, I follow those prints through the house and come upon the perpetrator and demand that he STOP using the house as his path to the garage. We do have a garage door from the outside for that!
The other culprits are the dogs. One of them thinks that she is a large pig or hog: she lays in the yard come rain, shine, snow, or mud. And she loves it! Since she has very long fur, she brings in sticks, leaves, and stickers that have gotten caught in that long coat and shakes them off as she walks through. The other dog is our runner: he runs back and forth and up and down the fields and meadows all day long! And he brings back with him parts of the farm, dragging them into the house. I have had green pond-moss smears on the carpet, stagnant water dog-shakes on the walls, and some mystery substance that was extremely smelly crammed down into the grout lines of the tile floor. Ugh.
And then there is the airborne dirt! I have gone a week without dusting and it reminded me of pictures of the Dust Bowl in the 1930’s! How does all this dust get into my house?! One sunny day, when the angled sunbeams came through the windows so that I could see the dust particles floating, I realized how much dirt, not just dust, comes through the door every time it is opened and someone comes through.
And when I start to clean, invariably I have to re-distribute the ‘wealth’ that has collected by the door. What kind of wealth is left on the table at the front door? Gloves, shotgun shells, binoculars, dog leashes, empty grocery bags, envelopes of seeds, stray wrenches, barbed wire pliers, an air compressor nozzle, trailer hitch pins, stray bolts, a door handle broken off the truck door, and the phone that got buried under the gloves that took me an hour to find. Luckily I found an old table to put next to the door to hold all of these treasures! This is a list of things that only made it as far as the table next to the door. It does NOT include the things that made it to the dining room table or the antique chair on the other side of that room, like the oily rag or the diesel fuel-soaked boots under the chair.
It might take a couple of hours to redistribute all this wealth to their proper homes and return all the dirt to the outdoors, but when it’s finished I am pleased as punch! I often drink a cup of coffee and wander around in my very clean space, nodding with that satisfied nod you often see men do when they survey their trimmed and clipped front yards! I revel in my very clean house.
And then the dirt clods come in for lunch and run through the house.
Life would be better out here on the farm if I did not enjoy a clean house as much as I do. I wish I could look the other way when I see those mud clods on the floor or smears on the wall where the dog rubbed muck off. I tell myself over and over to try harder not to hate dirt, misplaced tools, and gassy carburetors on my antique dining room table. I will try to be less anal about cleaning black greasy fingerprints off the white door trim and refrigerator. I promise I will try. Only time will tell how successful I am!
Copyright © 2012, Maura White. All rights reserved.