Things get messy and things go to entropy. Not just physical matter, but affairs in our lives. If you look at the seasons, you have spring and summer, and then autumn is when everything that has had its function browns and withers. There's a lot of decay on the ground. The winds blow all the leaves away down the street, and they disappear into nature. Winter comes and gives a big blanket of snow. In the quiet vastness of winter, we come full circle and something gets restored. Some type of pure state, some origin state. And then it starts all over again. Until you get things back to that clean state, the beauty and renewal that is spring can't happen. Cleaning is winter. You can argue that it's terrible that we are beasts that continually litter and have to clean up after ourselves. But that rhythm is what creates the fabric of our lives. I remember seeing my mom and grandmas hunched over a big circular basin full of laundry, with a washboard dipped in, beating the dirt out. Clothing and plates and spoons are assets in your life. They help you to eat; they help you be dressed. They care for you. Why not care for them back?
Photos and text from the forthcoming book "Cleaning: People Talk About Housework"