Sow There! The Great Shedding, Oct. 25, 2019

The tower of teacher treasures fills up a corner of the kitchen. (Heather Hacking — Contributed)
October 25, 2019

One day when I look back on my personal history, I will remember this month as the time of the Great Shedding.

I’m grateful to have a shed, but I also know the great mess that a storage place can become. I’ve shoved so many things into that space, I’m surprised the fire marshal has not arrived to issue some sort of messy-shed citation. My 6’x8′ shabby shack contains enough accumulated junk to stock the future Sow There! Historical Museum.

Every so often, I need to actually retrieve something that has disappeared into the darkness.

Last spring, my class went camping. I needed my tent and sleeping bag, located somewhere in the abyss. Retrieval involved removal of umpteen plastic crates labeled with vague clues such as “childhood keepsakes,” “love letters” or “skinny clothes.” I think I may even have some Barbie dolls from third grade, buried so deeply, I’ll only find them when I move.

During the quest for the tent, I dragged most of the contents of the shed into the hot sun, shimmied past the ice chests and the aluminum ladder, and found the camp gear near the back.

When you need to find a tent, you never have time to actually re-organize the shed like a rational person. In my case, I replaced the contents as randomly as they had been removed, and slammed the door.

Of course, my main problem is lack of shed initiative. Yet, I’ll give myself a break.

Clearing out the unwanted goodies from the shed has been on my to-do list for two years.

There have been days when I have donned grubby clothes and turned the key in the sturdy lock. Yet, good intentions turned to mush with that first smell of grease. Before the Handsome Woodsman died, he stored his manly things in the shed. More than a few times, I have opened the door planning to “shed” some of the accumulated stuff but merely stood in the doorway and sobbed.

If I can’t part with my Barbies, how could I decide which of his fishing poles to donate? Buckets of abalone we gathered in Fort Bragg? Tubs labeled “Dave’s clothes?”

And then there is the “box of pain.” One day, I bravely gathered up things that hurt too much to view, but I couldn’t imagine throwing away. That box is my time capsule, which I will sort through when I am able.

Yet, life has a way of pushing you toward things you’ve avoided.

My teaching job was eliminated and I need to hang onto an entire classroom of teaching tools. Thirty boxes would not be an exaggeration. Ten of these contain children’s books.

I’m also holding onto two oak bookshelves from the classroom. When I hauled all the classroom tools home, my living room soon looked like the interior of the shed.

Samantha and Jeff lent me a corner of their storage unit, and two pillars of boxes now make less-than-decorative additions to my kitchen and living room.

If I could just make room in my shed …

I’m proud to say that I have not yet reached perfection, but I’ve made progress.

I won’t be unemployed long. In a few weeks, I begin a series of temporary jobs at the college. My goal is to land another teaching job for next year, when I’ll need those boxes of children’s books and dry erase pens.

Progress so far:

  • • Two dump runs.
  • • Three carloads of donations to the thrift store.

I even ventured into the tubs of Dave’s clothes, and “shed” a few of those physical reminders that can remain merely as memories.

There are more things to part with, but for now the progress feels good.

As a bonus, I discovered I own a power drill and a hedge trimmer.

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