MARTHA SEZ: ‘Spring cleaning may be delayed this year as well’

After a long, cold winter, everyone seems happy to welcome spring. It’s late April, and, like moles, we haven’t seen much sunshine for a long time.

Yes, there are those among us who visited warmer climes — Myrtle Beach, maybe, or Florida. And then there were a few days right before I went to Colorado a week ago, when the temperature briefly soared to about 80 degrees and melted all the snow and got the AuSable River all worked up.

My sister reminds me that I used to say that I loved weather. If it was snowing, I loved snow. If thunder and lightning were splitting the sky, I rejoiced in thunder and lightning. If it was raining, I loved the pouring down rain. I take Sissy’s word for it, but now I find people who refuse to complain about the weather extremely irritating.

“Nice day,” I recently remarked to one of those people, nodding toward the window, where freezing, wind-driven rain could be seen. The wind was howling, and the raindrops were of such a consistency that when they hit the window glass they made little clicking sounds.

“Well, there’s nothing much we can do about the weather,” he replied. “I take it as it comes.” His tone was superior, as if he couldn’t be bothered by the weather, whether it was a full-blown blizzard or a mere wintry mix.

I would invent something witty and claim here that I said it in reply, thus getting the upper hand, in the old “so I says to him” tradition, but the truth is that I still can’t come up with anything.

Spring cleaning may be delayed this year as well. My friend Wendy told me that on the weekend, “I made friends with my couch,” not even getting up to put in a load of laundry. Her stressful work week, in combination with the cumulative effect of months of dismal weather, defeated any housecleaning ambitions she may have harbored.

It was always a different story with our late redoubtable Mrs. K., a member of the generation dubbed “the Greatest Generation” by Tom Brokaw. These people lived through the Great Depression as children. As young men they went overseas to fight fascism. Many young women, like the fabled Rosie the Riveter, as well as my mother, went to work in the defense industries. Women filled jobs that men held before they went off to war. When the young men returned, they took back the jobs, married the young women, moved to the suburbs and got busy starting the Baby Boom Generation.

My sister says that whenever a bush was obscuring a stop sign or broken glass was endangering visitors to a public park, it was invariably a member of the Greatest Generation who put things to rights, expecting no reward or praise. They simply did what any good citizen would do. And should do, as they would tell you.

Some time ago I saw Mrs. K. in the Keene Post Office, where, in her characteristic clear-eyed and direct manner, she was addressing a former town official, a member of the Baby Boom Generation.

“John!” she said. She didn’t call him “young fellow,” but I could hear it in her voice. “Do you want to make 20 cents?”

John laughed and waited to hear what was coming next.

“Along Hulls Falls Road, down the bank, there are four blue beer cans in the gully. I would climb down and get them myself, but the bank is still snowy, and your wife will be angry with me if I attempt it. So, if you would like to make 20 cents …”

John did not literally say “Yes, ma’am,” but he might as well have. His smile was respectful as he told Mrs. K. that yes, he would certainly remove the beer cans.

We Boomers are not exactly spring chickens ourselves, and some of us would have second thoughts about descending a slippery bank to pick up litter. Mrs. K., however, is well known for her citizenship, which included, among other good works, collecting the trash along her walking route. John knew that if those beer cans remained in the gully Mrs. K. would make good on her implicit threat to go down and get them herself.

Maybe he retrieved them, maybe he found someone from a younger generation to do it, but the litter disappeared. I never did hear whether he collected his 20 cents.

Have a good week.


(Martha Allen lives in Keene Valley. She has been writing for the Lake Placid News for more than 20 years.)

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