Maybe it has something to do with the spareness of the January landscape (particularly when it’s a clean white and sky-blue); or maybe it’s because there’s little to distract us outside when the wind is blowing a gale and the temperature is toe nippingly frigid; or maybe because we’re still in a New Year’s resolution frame of mind; or maybe for all of those reasons combined and a few more I haven’t thought of, January seems to be the time to focus on getting organized. Time to clear the physical and mental clutter of the year (or years as the case may be) and start fresh.

Gail and I usually spend the month focused on organizing our seed orders and making wish lists and plans for the gardens. But this year we’re also tackling our work space in a way that we haven’t gotten to in recent years. Not to this extent anyway. In the past we (mostly Gail) have gone through the closet, cleared accumulated paperwork off flat surfaces and even made attempts at tidying the cellar. That in particular seemed an impossible task to both of us. (Mostly me.) I wish I had before pictures because it was pretty scary down there with debris that had become so elderly we (I) began to think it must be part of the archival collection. Broken hoses, soil turned to dust, endless mismatched trays, buckets, old labels for long dead plants, and a lattice work of cobwebs, enormous black crevice-dwelling spiders, the occasional bat, and a frog… All (aside from the critters but including our stored dahlia tubers) in great jumbles on a couple of rickety old benches and the floor.

Huge thanks go to Fred, Dan, and Nick who spent part of last week down there clearing out and setting up brilliant, super sturdy shelves along each wall. Suddenly we have a whole new uncluttered, uncreepy, and perfectly functional cellar storage area. A place for everything and everything in its place, as my grandmother used to say. It’s twice the size it was before, easy. Applause, applause!

That frees us up to rethink how we organize the potting shed, which has to function as our office, a volunteer break room, as well as our soil mixing, potting up, and seed starting area (what it was originally intended for). Now that we can store more supplies downstairs, we’re giving some thought to dismantling these cubbies (left) to open up the room for a more gracious break table and supplemental work surface. But we’re still on the fence about that – a little sentimental about the cubbies because they’re so much a part of the building’s antique charm. But whatever we decide, it’s beginning to feel like a New Year in here already.

Have you turned inward too to organize and tidy up this winter? (Gail has been working on her own cellar and I’ve been trying to reshelve mental clutter…)