Spring Cleaning, a.k.a. Unearthing Uncomfortable Truths

This garage is a mess. As usual. 

I might have let it go too long this time. Sad, lonely equipment—including but not limited to the camping, hunting, canoeing, snowshoeing, fishing, and kayaking types— languishes on the floor from the last 12 months of assorted adventures.

As I stumble around in here I wonder where my problem lies: having too much stuff, or not having enough garage?

Let’s pretend the jury’s out on that one. For now, the time has definitely come to reckon with some of my earthly belongings. If nothing else, the season dictates it.

It seems we’re finally past that confusing time between warm and cold. Here in Minnesota, “Springter” typically arrives in March with the first 50-degree day, which prompts folks to inflate bike tires and put away flannel-lined underwear. The two months that follow are spent alternating between mowing the grass and making snow angels. As Memorial Day nears, it’s finally safe to say the year’s last snowstorm has come and gone.

I think.

No doubt the climatic uncertainty typical of northern latitudes wears on the nerves of many. But it’s a small price to pay for not worrying about unzipping your tent and stepping on a copperhead. Personally, I’m all in. I’ll never live anywhere else. I mean, I’ve never known anyone who lost a dog to an alligator. Who cares about a little blizzard now and then?

All the same, seasonal overlaps can clutter things up a bit. 

For instance, there’s a tent hanging from the rafters of the garage, which was left there to dry after the last time it was used. But it’s probably not what you think— that was only January. It could easily have been rolled up and put away a hundred times by now, but I told myself I wouldn’t do that until I could re-seal the seams. The directions on the package say the temperature has to stay above 60 degrees in order for it to cure properly, so that can finally happen in the next couple days. 

Well, maybe. 

It’s warming up fast out there, so my secret catfish spot is going to be hopping soon. I’d hate to trade one minute of that for something mundane, like clearing this workbench off. On the other hand, without a horizontal surface available, it’s awfully hard to turn whole fish into fillets. And I do love fried catfish. 

What a dilemma. 

What’s more, there’s a turkey hunting trip coming up at the end of this week, which puts another squeeze on the time budget. It also threatens to add to the disarray— boots, backpack, rain gear, etc. A savvy garage owner would have grabbed a handful of ice fishing equipment when he ascended the ladder to retrieve the turkey decoy.


“Savvy” is one title I’ll never hold here in this dusty kingdom. I’m beginning to think it might be a personality flaw. It’s not like I don’t have role models to show me the way. 

Take my dad, for example. He has a real knack for thinning things out. Evidence of that can be seen in every direction: his old pop-up turkey blind, a bundle of ancient cane poles, a gun case he didn’t need, a tiny folding table he knew I’d find irresistible. It seems every time I see him he has new/old treasures to bestow. Sometimes he’ll even call ahead to see if I want them.

It’s clear I’ll never be an organizational ninja on his level. But I wouldn’t have to be if this garage had another stall or two.

Some might point out that extra room would only gather extra stuff. That could be true. But this family of four has already accrued 11 sleeping bags, 17 camp chairs, 32 fishing rods, and 53 pairs of boots of every variety. How much worse could it get? 

It’s tough to say. Right now it appears the ratchet straps are reproducing. They keep appearing from behind every box and life jacket. How did they all get here?

The sheer number is rather impressive, to be honest. And it’s not that I don’t use them, it’s simply unclear whether I can use them up in one lifetime. It causes me to ponder a question that husbands everywhere dare not speak aloud:

Do I really need this many?

When it comes to ratchet straps— or any of this stuff— I will continue to avoid asking for my wife’s input. Whatever she might say, it doesn’t promise to be favorable. For now, I’ll keep my head down and continue finding places to stash gloves, landing nets, and cans of bug spray. Maybe one day there will be room in here for a fishing boat. 

Okay, maybe just enough for another tent. 

Or tackle box.

Or hammock. 

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