To mark the first day of spring, my husband and I spent a few hours cleaning different parts of the house of importance to us — he, the garage; me, the kitchen.
OK, so we didn’t really do it to celebrate spring, but it seemed appropriate that the mood struck this time of year. We must be biologically programmed to refresh and renew our spaces as the earth reawakens from its winter slumber, because all I want to do these days is clean out, throw out, and paint. Lately, my husband has become fixated on those TV shows about “hoarders” — maybe because their extreme clutter makes him feel less guilty about our mess — and by the end of each show, he wants to throw out everything we own. But I digress.
While I could have taken on the entire house, I focused instead on the refrigerator, which had harbored far too many opened jars of salsa and plastic containers of stinky feta cheese in recent weeks (and yes, I’ll admit it, months). The shelves were coated with grime even though I swear I wiped them down not that long ago, and we had run out of space. I had opened the refrigerator at a friend’s house on Wednesday and marveled at the empty spots on her shelves inside… and I knew it was time to purge the fridge.
I started at the top, removing everything from the first shelf, then lifting out the shelf itself and setting it into the sink for a scrub with a warm, soapy washcloth and rinse. Once it was dry, back in it went, into what I hoped was the same set of holes from whence it came.
I repeated those steps with the next four shelves, meat drawer, and fruit and vegetable bins. The only way to get everything really clean and all the stinky stuff tossed is to take it all out and start fresh. A few leftovers went back in, but the ketchup bottles were consolidated, like items such as jars of jelly and dairy products stored together on their shelves, and fruits and vegetables past their prime were tossed.
I scanned the shelves on the door, which are largely full of condiments, salad dressings and a few bottles of brewski, but they were pretty clean and I left them alone. I thought about polishing off the last glass of wine left in a bottle, but recalled my indulgence the night before at our Boy Scout Troop 506′s annual St. Patrick’s Day dinner and dance at St. Francis Xavier Church, and decided against it. That’s one leftover that went back into the fridge.
I am sure I am more frugal than most (which is a polite way of admitting I save stuff way past the health department’s recommended shelf lives), but even I had to toss things I couldn’t remember buying.
First rule of thumb: When in doubt, throw it out!
The second rule of thumb should be: clean the refrigerator the day before Garbage Day.
Unfortunately, I did not heed that second rule, and now I have a garbage bag of stinky food — at least, that which I didn’t force down the garbage disposal — waiting in my garbage can for four more days. At least that’s one benefit of the cold temperatures we’re supposed to have this week — and all in all, I’ll take the clean refrigerator I use every day over the stinky garbage can I encounter weekly.
I rinsed and set the empty glass jars aside to take to the recycling bins outside Hawkins grocery, since glass is one thing I know the recycling plant does not separate and I hate for it to be added to the landfill.
Now if I can just keep this energy going… looking around my office, I need to spend a few hours in here too, before it’s mistaken for the landfill. That’s work for another day.