|Honey? Would you walk into the front room and tell me what the weather looks like today, please?|
It's March 17 - Saint Patrick's Day in many places. There's the first hint of corned beef beginning to rise from the slow-cooker here in my home; the warm aroma of peppercorn, bay leaves, and mustard seed leading the pack. That means there will be a fine dinner tonight.
Fortunately the days of the annual St. Patrick tsunami of bock beer, Bushmills (with Irish Coffees for balance) and anything else that could be hammered into a means to get hammered in general are long past me, thank goodness, along with that irritating faux macho bravado that tends to push the abuse along.
Although there are still plenty of areas in the U.S. this year where the sighting of the First Robin of Spring may involve a dead bird frozen in some grey icy sludge, it's fair weather here in California... and that means Spring Cleaning to a lot of us. It's taken a longer ramping-up period for me this year because of settling in and catching up after my extended month in Thailand/Taiwan, but I'm finally at it in earnest.
The annual house-cleaning time is in April in Thailand, although the holiday it precedes - Songkran - is far more often associated with the more joyous habit of water tossing, but it's also the time of year you'd clean house, both literally and spiritually. That's really where the idea of pouring a minimal amount of water over the hands or head came from, anyway: a spiritual cleaning and blessing. More on that in about a month, when Songkran begins.
Regardless of how grand or how humble your home is in many countries in Asia, it's important to sweep it out and prepare it for the beginning of the new year, whenever that occurs in your area... and although we're far removed from the Western New Year, the tradition of Spring Cleaning has had me busy the past few days.
|A roadside barber, Udonthani. I know families who live in shelters not much more "complete" than this - by our standards - but home is home... and New Year cleaning is still New Year cleaning.|
Unlike the Thai roof in the top picture today nothing needed major renovations, just a basic cleaning: sweeping, moving furniture and vacuuming behind and beneath it, dusting cabinets and their contents (how does so much dust get into a closed cabinet, anyway?), giving the kitchen and bathrooms a good scrubbing down and doing a purge of things in the garage and storage. Coming from a long line of pack-rats that annual purge alone takes a couple of days.