Spring cleaning is all about eliminating clutter. Fall cleaning may start out that way, but — at least for me — typically becomes a mental journey through the past rather than a path to the future.

I look around and discover not junk, but cherished artifacts.

A sweep through the basement yielded my ancient backpack. The one I lugged to California’s Fordyce Creek, in the shadow of Old Man Mountain. The one I strapped to the back of a motorcycle for a weekend pilgrimage to the Upper Peninsula’s Big Two-Hearted River. The one a mouse chewed into while I slept under the stars in Arizona. That bit of canvas held memories, and it survived many spring and fall cleanings. This year, though, it failed the sniff test and went in the trash where it belonged.

While hoisting our kayaks onto the garage rafters for their winter slumber, a groggy bat tumbled to the ground. I carried it outside and set it gently in a shadow. It was gone when I checked later. Perhaps it found a new place in one of our kayaks in which to hibernate.

Next came float tubes — air expelled, they went into storage away from bats and mice.

I glanced at our lawn chairs and table, but decided we probably still have a few days to use them. Besides, they’re heavy and I’d already broken a sweat hefting the kayaks.

I picked up my favorite chore boots and studied the oddly-worn heels that my doctor says indicate I underpronate (one of the reasons my ankles hurt), then stepped outside to search for a twig to scrape dried mud out of the lug soles. Then I was overcome by the futility of cleaning something that will again get dirty. So I tossed the boots, dried mud intact, back into their corner.

Still on the fall chore agenda: Buying burlap to wrap around our arbor vitae shrubs. We left them naked last winter, and the deer gnawed off every bit of greenery from the ground up to chin level. They still haven’t recovered. My wife heard that wrapping them can keep teeth away. It’s worth a try.

I hope leaves fall before snow does, so we can mow them into mulch. Timing was poor last fall, so our yard was a mess of rotten leaves this spring.

There isn’t nearly so much seasonal urgency to straighten things inside the house. We keep a fairly good handle on that chore. But I did take a half-hearted stab at decluttering my home office, which our desk shares with the spare bed.

My desk at the downtown office is neater than usual, because I gave it a spring cleaning back in April. But it may be dusty by now since I’ve hardly been back.

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