This weekend I’ve stayed underground instead of flying overhead. Yesterday’s grey damp weather was the perfect setting for my scheduled cleaning of the basement, and that’s where I spent most of the day.

When people move, they often leave behind a mess. Especially if they’re teenagers. This year, all three of my kids moved out to their own lives, and most of their leave-behind mess has been in my basement. It’s been a year of working on the house as well, and tools took up residence all over the house, just never on the toolbench where they belong, it seems. Lately I’ve practically had to put on hiking boots just to get to the ironing board…

So, armed with the shop vac, hefty bags, cleaner, and paper towels I headed down the stairs. The house was built in 1921, and the basement is cement, mostly unfinished. Vacuuming up the streaming cobwebs was sort of fun, and I actually like organizing my hardware and tools. Found a few things I’d forgotten I had, including a new showerhead still in the box. I just bought a new one at Home Depot and installed it. Too bad I didn’t clean first.

I found a box of refrigerator magnets that I had put away in a tupperware container a few years ago when we got a new Maytag. I didn’t want the old magnets to scratch the new surface. Finding them was like taking a trip back in time, because most of them were purchased during family trips or occasions to be marked in some way. I put a few back up on the fridge (which got scratched in a few places anyway) and saved the rest to share with the rest of the fam if they want them. That was fun.

I’ve always liked basements. I like the sound of them: the sounds from the rest of the house, music and voices, are all muffled, and you can hear the hum of the big machines that make the house run. It’s like being in the womb. It’s the engine room. I like the exposed hardware – pipes and pumps and wires and such – and I like the musty smell. I like feeling the connection between the house and the earth it’s nestled into. When I was a kid I was in my basement a lot, in my dad’s dark room developing photos with him, or hanging out while he tapped morse code on his ham radio. Those are really good memories for me.

A basement is the first chakra of the house: foundation, security, the in and out points for the power and plumbing and heat, and laundry, always the laundry. I like how it’s warm there in the winter with the furnace minding its business day and night and the dryer doing its part, and how it’s several degrees cooler down there in the summer. I respect the spiders and the occasional potato bug even while I encourage them to find a different place to play. So my chore yesterday felt good and connected me to my house in a variety of positive ways. I love my basement.

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