Take Five: Spring-time fancy

The stirring quote that always pops into my head after seeing spring flowers pop up in our yard is from Alfred, Lord Tennyson: “… in the spring, a young man’s fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love. “

In truth, the young man reference doesn’t apply here any more, and the love part (since I’m OK in that department) applies, perhaps, to the love of taking a nap in the spring.

However, along with the flowering azaleas and rapidly-fleeting wisteria, this season brings spring cleaning. So, here come the buckets of water, the soap, the liquid compounds, the cleaning cloths, the brooms, the squeegees and the ladder. Ahh—there’s nothing like the smell of ammonia to stir the blood.

My selective hearing problem intensifies and my attention span diminishes, withering faster than the wisteria. But, helping out is important, so my job is to tackle the garage. I volunteered for this hazardous duty because it seemed like it would take only a few hours of work to clean up.

I hauled the ladder into a corner, propped it up against the first shelf and climbed up. The heavy box I took down from the top was stuffed with long-forgotten items probably packed away from one of the previous “cleanup” attempts.

Here are some items that are both a writer’s dream and a husband’s good fortune:

How about a Replogle brand Globe? You know, the kind that sits on your desk and shows the world on a tilted axis (at exactly the right angle) so you can go places. This geographic treasure is a gorgeous piece. The world is shown “in relief”, raised, so you can touch the boundaries of each country. (We could all use some relief). The legend shows 6,711 steamship routes. Be aware, this is an old map.

Next, I found a CD set of nine Spanish lessons. This album, “Learn-in-Your-Car: Spanish” has nine hours of comprehensive instruction. I vaguely remember listening to one of the CDs. ¿Que buscas? What are you looking for? (I use that a lot in Spanish and English). Here’s a more practical example: Hago una taza de café. I’m making a cup of coffee.

The next gem is the September 1985 issue of the now-defunct Gourmet magazine. Actually, there is a larger stack but I hesitate mentioning it because I think all of the issues were supposed to be tossed out at The Last-Great-Spring-Cleanup. But what fun glancing through the pages!

How about a recipe for sorrel soup with salmon quenelles? There are 12 items for this dish, which serves four people. No mention of how long one is chained to the cooktop. And these other recipes and stories—along with the great pictures of food—are natural work-stoppers. When’s lunch?

5.And finally there’s a huge, full-page ad for Sambuca Romana “a suave and elegant liqueur” and a favorite of Tennyson’s, I believe. I’m sure I read that somewhere.

Hmm — a glass of wine perhaps, let’s make it two glasses, please. I need a pick-me-up to explain my malingering on this cleanup job. Perhaps I’ll just sit down with this magazine, reminisce about the good old days and drift off.

Heck, spring itself lasts several months. Plenty of time to clean up and clean out these boxes. I see another interesting carton to open up. Maybe I can find that awful cookie-cutter I made in metal shop in the eighth-grade. My mother tossed it out long ago, but I rescued it from the trash. I’ll get back to you if I find it.

GENE PEPPER is a published author and writer. Contact him by email at gpep@aol.com, or phone ( (818) 790-1990.

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