In With The New

5648D17B-10C5-49D3-8139-2BF17A237E0DThere’s a lot to love about Spring.  The warmer temperatures, the bright colors on the trees as they sprout new buds, and the gorgeous array of flowers are all welcome signs that Winter is finally over.  Spring is a time of hope, when nature seems to reawaken and we venture outside without bundling up first.  It’s easy to understand why many people call it their favorite season, and I’m certainly always happy to see it arrive.

But Spring has its downside as well, and not just for those of us who suffer from seasonal allergies.  (Though the runny nose, sore throat, itchy eyes and sneezing isn’t any picnic to live with, especially these days when every single allergy symptom is also on the list of Covid symptoms.)  The problem with Spring, for me anyway, is that it involves a whole lot of work.

Spring cleaning my house is simply the beginning.  Once I’ve given everything a thorough cleaning and airing, including painting touch-ups, I help my husband with the yard.  We set up our patio furniture, rake the last of our neighbor’s leaves off our grass, haul out our flower pots to refill, trim bushes and plants, and spread the newly-delivered mulch.  The big box-store commercials make preparing our yards for Spring look like so much fun, but after a few  hours of steady work, trust me, the thrill wears off.

And then there’s the worst job of all: my annual “shifting of the wardrobe.”  This involves removing all the Winter/Fall clothes from my closet and dresser and replacing them with my warm-weather clothes.  It sounds easy, I know, but I struggle with this job each year.  Spring’s fluctuating temperatures makes deciding what I should pack away and what I should leave out for another few weeks rather difficult.  Then there’s the whole question of what I should do with a sweater that I bought (on sale, from a high-end store) three years ago and haven’t worn once.  Or the blouse that I’ve worn many times, because I’ve been wearing it for twelve years.  Just how long is too long to hang on to a blouse?  These are not decisions that I make easily.

I know my life would be simpler if I lived in a house that had a closet big enough to store all my clothes year-round.  But as hard as it is for me to sort through everything two or three times a year, I also know it’s actually a good thing.  It forces me to evaluate my clothes and make a conscious decision on exactly what I want to keep, and helps me recognize when the time has come to get rid of a sweater I once loved but has long since lost its shape and no longer fits.  It’s sort of a  “fashion renewal.”

I still love Spring, despite my allergies and all the work it brings.  Sprucing up our yard, buying new flowers to plant, and weeding out my wardrobe is worth the effort, because discarding what no longer works and actively making room for new things gives me hope.  And the hope that comes from renewal is the very best part of Spring.

78 thoughts on “In With The New

    • It’s really hard, isn’t it? I find myself attached to stuff I don’t wear any more, but that has sentimental value. And then I forget to wear nicer, new clothes that I’ve bought!

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  1. Gee, Ann, you’re motivating me. I need to do many of the things you’ve mentioned, but I’ve tended to let things slide. Good for you, for having this spring cleaning routine! (even though it sounds challenging. I’m sure you feel wonderful when it’s all finished!)

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    • It is a bit challenging! I was raised (for a while) in South St. Louis, which was known for it’s “Scrubby Dutch” population. It wasn’t unusual for people to be seen washing the curb in front of their house…. So I think Spring cleaning was ingrained in me at a young age. But honestly, it’s the changing over of the wardrobe that is the most work!

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  2. I find that as I grow older every household chore is becoming an effort. With some, there’s the joy after doing it. But with others like dusting….never ending boredom. Somewhere just after comes the sorting of clothes. Earlier i used to feel happy, clothes sorted into definite piles. Now the piles overlap, confusing me all the more! Sentiment into shapeless into illfitting into new… Still, the bright flowers and subtle fragrance in the air make me feel happy.
    Lovely post, as usual.

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    • Thank you! I feel the same way you do about many chores that are so repetitive: dusting, vacuuming, laundry, etc. It’s the same thing over and over. When I buy an old piece of furniture and clean it up, or paint a wall, then there’s a feeling of accomplishment. But I’m allergic to dust mites and mold, and don’t like clutter, so I clean anyway. And I do think that the wardrobe sorting gets more confusing every year!

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  3. I always enjoy the candour and perspectives of your posts. Most people love Spring, even if there favourite weather is different. Allergies are usually a small price to pay for this bountiful season, except in severest of cases. I liked how you introduced the angle of domestic rearrangements and the numerous attendant dilemmas associated with the onset of Spring.

    It is, undoubtedly, my favourite weather. There is a poem about Springtime Wind that has always fascinated me. I have tried to translate it in one of my posts though I am uncertain it can ever be conveyed any other way than the poet intended. https://uspandey.com/2017/02/07/the-springtime-wind-a-translation/

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  4. I have the same closet challenges; I often dream about turning my son’s room closest to mine into a closet if only I could get rid of him 🤣. As for the yard work, once that gets to be too much, outsource. I suspect you still get some satisfaction out of doing it though 😊.

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    • I know! My kids are grown and out of the house, so I could turn a bedroom into a closest…. But then I’d lose our spare bedroom, and also I think I’d keep far too many clothes I never wear anymore. It is tempting, though. We have begun to outsource some of our yard work. We used to do the mulch all by ourselves and it took forever! Now we have it delivered and supposedly spread. But the pile too much in one place and not enough in another, and also cover up many of my flowers. So after the company leaves, my husband and I get out our rakes and shovels and go to work!

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  5. I see your points Ann. All the efforts are worthwhile if you are happy at the end. The first sun rays of the year reaches my living room in mid February every year. Such a feeling. Happy spring!

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  6. I really liked the way you wrote about this, Ann: you kept it real. You looked spring right in the eye, acknowledged its beauty as well as its shadows. As beautiful and as welcomed as spring is for you, it also means a whole slew of less desirable things. Things we’d rather do without. And yet, to not have those “shadows” is to not have spring too – unthinkable!

    As I write this, an old quote comes to mind – When you see shadows, remember the sun must be shining close by. While the quote seeks to give hope, I see it in a slightly different way. For me it means that when the sun of joy rises high in our moments, there can also be shadows close by. But that is life and must be accepted with as much good cheer as we can muster if we are to live and thrive at living. In fact, I believe that we open ourselves to more sun and joy by the honest ways we navigate difficult times, rather than to flee from them or even pretend difficulties, sorrows and hardship do not affect us.

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    • I completely agree! Happiness doesn’t come from ignoring the difficult parts of life, because they are very real and we will all have periods of grieving, anger, loss, and all the rest of it. It comes from acknowledging the hard things while making a very real effort to focus on the more positive things. That’s true happiness, I think, and it is with reach of most of us. If we can only be happy when things are “perfect” we will never be happy at all. Thanks, as always, for your insightful comment.

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  7. I share your pain. The field at the back of our garden has been planted with rape-seed oil. It looks beautiful at the moment: a sea of golden yellow but I’m looking at it through streaming eyes whilst sniffing vigorously. As for my wardrobes, I operate the same system and I think where I go wrong is realising that charity shops don’t want the winter clothes I’d be happy to part with now but come the autumn I’ll be inclined to give them all a second chance which is what I’m, of course, doing at present with my lighter weight clothes as I swap wardrobes.

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    • Yes, I was driving today and thought about how beautiful all the trees look now that they’re budding out. But I was driving with my windows closed and the air conditioner on, because I can’t breathe that pollen without getting sick. And I have the same problem: no one wants my Winter clothes when I’m packing them away, or my Summer ones either. I do manage to get rid of them in the pre-season, though, because I tell myself I can’t buy anything new unless I get rid of something old. For me, that (mostly) works!

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    • Yes our neighbor only believes in raking her leaves once a year, and the rest of the time (her tree drops them all Winter long, don’t ask me why) she just lets them blow into other people’s yards. But still, it’s less work than when we had two huge trees in our own yard. Both of them got sick and had to be taken down. I don’t miss raking the leaves, but I do miss the shade they provided!

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  8. We finished the last of the outdoor spring clean-up this week which was power washing the pine pollen from all three porches. Of course, all the furniture and potted plants have to be removed and put back. Happily for us, we never put our summer clothes away as one day can be winter and the next summer. But, every day I see new plants emerging and trees leafing out which makes spring the best time of the year…as soon as the chores are done.

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    • Not having to maintain two separate wardrobes is an advantage of living in a climate that doesn’t have four distinct seasons. We get green crud on north-facing surfaces here, and we have to use the power washer for those as well. I also realized the downside of a fake picket fence (it’s vinyl) is that mold grows on them. I thought it’d be maintenance-free since it doesn’t require painting, but I was wrong!

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  9. I went to a give or take 100 piece wardrobe, give or take (excluding shoes and gym clothes). I found that about 80% of my wardrobe can be worn 3/4 of the year, so I no longer do a big switch. If I buy new stuff, I look to see how often it can be worn. I will say, this totally works for me and I’m happier because there’s an ease to dressing now

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    • That’s a good system, and one I should try to copy. Less bulky sweaters, more clothes that can be layered in the Winter. I think I’ve read about your wardrobe system before, and was impressed by it’s efficiency. That’s one of the benefits of living in a city apartment: you learn to keep only what you really need, as opposed to those of us who live in the suburbs with big basements underneath our homes!

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  10. I’ve tried to downsize / amalgamate everything seasonal (including sleepwear) to one double bar hanging clothing rack. (I’d found that “With layering, [nearly] all things are possible” lol!) Footwear also has to fit in one hanging shoebag. So, only the big coat gets garment-bagged in the hall with gloves etc. into it’s zippered pocket, and (all) my boots stay under the bed. I tried often, but the 7 others here are on their own, now, closet-ing wise. But oh, the Spring outside cleaning up and organizing.. ugh. So dread it, but it feels so good once it’s done — like taking off ice skates!

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    • You’re the second reader to mention that layering means buying/keeping fewer clothes! I’m going to try that. And I admire your system for shoes. I’m not especially into shoes, but I still own far too many, and storing them has become a problem. And yes, doing the Spring clean up is no fun, but having done it is wonderful!

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  11. Snow means slow in this neck of the woods. Spring, summer, fall are filled with activity beginning with the spring cleanup after the snow melts. I like Rupali’s comment about the sun’s rays reaching into other parts of the house in Feb and I revel in the sun’s emergence over a new spot on the horizon. It’s a late spring temperature wise but the river is breaking up, there are pussy willows and I saw a robin the other day. Yeah for spring.

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  12. Sometimes it pays to be a guy. Winter wardrobe is mostly just summer wardrobe plus a sweater.
    As for the spring yard, the first order of business – get a jump on those weeds before they jump on you…

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    • I sincerely believe that men have it much easier than women when it comes to clothes. You don’t have to maintain the variety, and the styles don’t changed dramatically from year to year. I long for the day when women say “enough” and start rejecting the latest trends…..I don’t follow them intentionally, but when I need new clothes, the “latest trend” is often all that’s available!

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  13. We just finished weeding out the AZ clothing. Three bags to GoodWill. Did the AB house before we left there. Am happy to say that we don’t have to do a seasonal clothing switch. We have more cupboard space than clothes at both places!
    The downside to living in two places, though, is double the yard work…

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  14. So glad you are busy culling so often … like “under the mask” I have a very limited robe and like layering too! I have two tiny robes, like caravan single robes … one has summer gear and the other winter. Shoes sit in one rack and I’ve always had the deal … a new shirt/jumper in = an old shirt/jumper goes out. Works for me 🙂

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    • I think the advantage of living in a smaller house is that you aren’t able to accumulate too much stuff! I know my mom has a much easier time keeping track of her things now that she’s living in a one-bedroom apartment in a retirement complex. Every once in a while she’ll wonder what happened to something she got rid of, but for the most part, she’s very happy with less. And I’m like you: I don’t buy something new to wear without getting rid of something old!

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  15. I talked (via online) to my son and his wife in St Louis yesterday and it was 85! Seems a bit warm for yard work. Hopefully you are keeping hydrated as we always forget after the winter months how important that is while doing yard work.
    Just did the clothes switch out here this week. I have issues with giving up clothes I don’t wear too. I usually buy at second hand stores so it isn’t like tons of money that is keeping me from parting with them. Space is limited but I seem to find boxes that fill with clothes.😳 oh well we all could use a coat of many colors…someday.😂🤣

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    • Yes, it was very warm a couple of days ago. Today, it’s actually a bit cooler than usual, but that’s okay….the heat will be here soon enough. And I think we could all use a coat of many colors….think of the extra closet space that would create! Ha!

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  16. I really enjoyed this post, Ann. It got me thinking. It’s been Spring here in the UK too. I love this season also; not too hot, not too cold, not too wet etc. It’s been gloriously sunny and 17 degrees all day today. Mind you, it’s going to drop down to 2 degrees tonight – brrr! So many of the trees are in blossom which seems to brighten up the dullest of roads. I do have a garden but it has no flowers, just grass (and most of that is weeds or moss). At least it’s green! I’m not physically able to garden but have Mick, my garden man, who comes once a fortnight to get it in order. I’d rather leave it to grow and not disturb the daisies, buttercups and forget-me-nots. It would be good for wildlife too if left to grow, but it wouldn’t be fair on Mick to have to wade through long grass every few weeks.

    I’m not great when it comes to turning out wardrobes. I’m fortunate in that I have plenty of space, but it’s full of everything, summer and winter clothes, but mostly, a lot of older things and a few newer things that never see my back because I’m saving them for ‘best’ … except, there is never a ‘best’ [occasion] to wear them at. I have a beautiful newish jumper upstairs; I bought it last year and still haven’t worn it. So, out comes my red jumper [again] complete with its bobbles – not intentional, decorative ones but the old and worn type. This week, I was in John Lewis and came across a gadget called a ‘debobbler!’ It’s basically a razor for clothes. That’ll smarten up my jumper, I thought. Have I used it yet? No, it’s sitting on the worktop waiting for the batteries to be put in. Oh, well, I am really fond of that red jumper!

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    • Ha! I think we all have a clothing item like your red jumper. Something we’ve worn for years and are very comfortable in. And that’s okay. (I’ve used those debobblers before, with mixed results. I think it depends on the material you’re using it on.) It’s also taken me a long time to stop saving clothes for “best.” Because as you say, then we never wear them! Sometimes our best clothes just need to be worn, no matter what we’re doing, I think.

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  17. Well said, Ann. I, too, have been battling the semi-annual “shifting of clothes” from one closet to another, the endless washing and ironing (I hate to put things up unfresh!), and the deciding what to do with everything. I’m not totally sure even the charities really want this stuff, either, but I’m letting them make that decision. As for the yard: well, let’s just say I’ve already seen more garter snakes than I bargained for, ha!

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    • I also wonder just exactly what happens to so many clothes that we donate. I saw a news show about how many are shipped overseas, and end up in landfills there. It would be nice if we figured out a way to truly recycle used clothing, wouldn’t it? I cut up old t-shirts and sweat-shirts for cleaning rags, but otherwise, I donate everything and hope for the best! (And good luck with those garter snakes….LOL!)

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  18. I’ve dodged closet sorting, as least as a seasonal thing, and you’re right–it makes for bigger sessions when you actually get down to it. I could use another installment (insert sight here).

    With me, spring is tough because in northern California we get a crazed growing season right now–all the spring energy with all the wild grasses and plants frantic to reproduce before our annual summer drought. It’s like you go to bed and the grass is taller in the morning.

    Yearly painting? Wow—you go.

    And by the time we make it though spring, it’ll be hot. Then we’ll look back on it fondly. : )

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    • That’s the truth! Once the pollen starts up, I find myself wishing Spring would just be over, and and then when it is, I miss it! I guess in some ways I’m never satisfied. And yeah, Spring is a tough month in terms of clothes, even in the Midwest. Our temps can switch from mid-80’s to just below freezing, so it’s hard to know exactly what to keep in my close this time of year. Still, I love the season overall….it is beautiful!

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  19. Thanks, Ann. Sounds like your seasonal routine is alot like mine. Yes, there’s some drudergy involved, but once accomplished, it’s actually quite satisfying. Unfortunately, spring here in Nebraska has been less than pleasant: wind constantly and a severe drought. We hope for better days. But thanks again for your timely overview.

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    • I’m so sorry about your drought! We had a bad one about ten years ago, along with very hot temps, and I hated it. I hope you do get better weather soon. And thanks for commenting!

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  20. I laughed at “how long is too long to hang on to a blouse?” I’m sure I have things I have been wearing for at least 12 years (how nice to no longer care about what’s in fashion). However, I do have quite a lot of wardrobe space so I know there are also things lurking at the back that I will never wear again but probably haven’t looked at for a long, long time. Maybe tomorrow I’ll get them out and take them to Oxfam. Or maybe not …

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    • I’m glad I’m not the only one who hangs on to old clothes! I don’t worry much about the latest trends either, although sometimes they’re hard to avoid when buying new clothes and that’s all that’s available. Having smaller closet space is handy for me in terms of weeding out clothes I don’t wear, but I can sure see the advantages of having enough space that I didn’t need to do it every year!

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  21. There is a lot of work to do in the spring! I like to check off the chores as I go long because it encourages me to keep going. I look around and see all the things I have to do, but reminding myself of how much I have accomplished is motivating. We do need to make room for new things in our lives. We need to dream new dreams and weed out whatever is not really working for us. Sometimes, we do things the same way over and over again because that is the way we have always done it. And that can be a good thing in some cases. I have often discovered that if I try something new, I feel infinitely better.

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  22. Love this post. I have Spring allergies so I don’t always think of it as the kindness season of the year. I’m in the process of shifting my wardrobe– and as for spring cleaning I love it when it is finished, but don’t much enjoy doing it. Still I’m ready for some newness, oh yes I am.

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    • My Spring allergies are really kicking in right now, so I’m enjoying Spring through a closed window as much as possible. Luckily, the really bad pollen only seems to last for two or three weeks, so I’ll be able to spend more time outside again soon. And I’m with you on Spring cleaning: great when it’s done, not so great when we’re doing it!

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  23. Yes, it is a good thing to be forced to sort through our clothes! I also have some things that are very old, but I still wear on a regular basis. I also have a bunch of clothes that I used to wear to work, but now I am retired and we moved to the lake, and then it was covid. I should get rid of some of those. It is trying to be spring here but the lake is still frozen!!

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    • I hope your lake thaws out soon! We had a very warm day today, but it’s supposed to be chilly for the next few days. And yeah, when I quit my job to be a stay-at-home Mom, then suddenly half my wardrobe was no longer necessary. I’m sure it’s the same thing with retiring!

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  24. “Shifting of the wardrobe” – smiling. The problem here in New England is that I start to shift too soon. Mid-April we got temps in the 50s and 60s. I started shifting – winter clothes up in guest closet, spring/summer down in master bedroom. Then, brrrrr, temps back in 30s and 40s! Shift backward. Now I have half and half, and I don’t know where ANYthing is. 🙂 Happy Spring cleaning. (sneeze, sniffle, cough)

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    • Yeah, that’s a little bit of a problem in the Midwest, but not as bad as what you deal with! We get cold temps in the Spring for a day or two, but then it warms back up. Still, it is hard to know exactly when to pack those sweaters away! And I’m also sneezing and sniffling due to Spring allergies….not fun at all!

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  25. I never got around to putting my spring and summer clothes away before last fall and winter came around – what a mess, plus I had no room! So last week I put away my winter clothes. Now today it’s in the fifties and all my turtlenecks are packed away. So I’m wearing a jacket over my lightweight clothes 😉

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