If there’s one thing I love to do when the birds begin chirping and the flowers start popping up, it’s opening the windows to the fresh spring air. That’s step number one to beginning my spring.
(Second for me, of course, is grabbing a lighter coat and racing outside.)
Opening windows wasn’t a ritualistic part of my life until I moved to Germany. I’d walk down the Berlin streets and see apartment buildings full of wide open windows and balcony doors. It didn’t matter if it was the retired woman with lace curtains or the young man who could stay up all night playing techno music and drinking beer—they all welcomed the fresh breeze … especially in the spring.
You’ve probably heard that the air in our homes is more toxic than outdoor air, even in the city. Our furniture, cabinets, and carpets are slowly releasing nasty toxins like formaldehyde. If we don’t open our windows, those chemicals stick around, and we keep breathing them.
When we make hot tea, take a shower, line dry clothes, or do anything else that adds moisture to the air (including our breathing), we’re also creating an environment that’s conducive to mold. It loves warm, damp environments. As construction technology makes our homes tighter, the problem grows.
Then there are all of our cleaning products—you know, the things with labels like “toxic” and “hazardous”. These products are supposed to be getting rid of bad stuff in our homes, and they do! But if we don’t get a little air circulating through our houses, I’m afraid they’re adding bad stuff, too.
If you notice your eye water, your nose runs, or you can’t kick a headache, it may be a big red flag: you need some fresh air.
We crack our windows open a little every day. I have to channel my inner German when it’s -30 degrees Fahrenheit during the Montana winter. But now? That frigid weather is gone. Spring is creeping in, and I hope you join me in letting it blow into your home.
Feel European if you want; I know you’ll feel a little more alive.
Springtime also means I’m taking time to:
- Bring fresh flowers inside. Here’s how Germans handle their bouquets.
- Make homemade lemonade with fresh lemons and sugar.
- Journal the smells around us.
- Head to the park with my son and a journal. (This kid’s adventure journal is my favorite.)
Gustav Mahler was an Austrian composer who said, “Spring won’t let me stay in this house any longer! I must get out and breathe the air deeply again.”
And when I can’t get out of the house, I’m opening my windows.
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This month’s essay is a part of an on-going study of gratitude and joy, which all began with the creation of this gratitude journal. If you’d like to receive monthly stories published on Making This Home in your inbox, sign up here.