The Moving Diaries: Clearing the Attic

This was the weekend of the attic. Fairly typical of American Foursquare houses, our attic is large, a big square space with two dormers front and back. With a total floor space of about 400 square feet, and a ten-foot ceiling, it’s a space with promise. We always thought we might turn it into a studio for me…but it never happened. So it became a place to store things, as attics do.

Friday I spent a couple of hours sorting: garbage, thrift store, keep. Three piles. Then I lugged boxes and bins and bags up the steep stairs and consigned the piles to containers. And that was enough, for one day.

Saturday, I brought the containers holding the ‘keep’ items down one floor to the spare bedroom, which is becoming the box repository. Then I left BD watching soccer and went to a friend’s open barn day,

Adorable Angora Kid

where she shows off her spring crop of angora goat babies, and gives tours of her woolen mill and shop. Angora kids are adorable, and the colours she dyes the wool are enough to make me want to start knitting again. After we move.





Sunday – today – I started the day with a good two hour walk, birding the woodlands and open spaces of the university arboretum. Spring migration is just starting, resident birds are defending territory and building nests, and the air was loud with song and the drumming of woodpeckers. I needed scarf and gloves for most of the walk, but by ten it was warm enough to shed both – but it was also time to head for home and finish the attic.

I surveyed the spare room, and realized my first step was to move the ‘keep’ items – or most of them – from the blue plastic bins to boxes. The plastic bins are meant for taking items to the new house that we’ll unpack immediately, the bins returning to the car for another trip. So I packed boxes, carefully labelling them: “Board game, desk lamp, miscellaneous” one box says. “Various winter things,” another says. Sometimes what goes into a box is determined by the size of the items and the box, not the relatedness of the items. But since this was all in the attic, none of it is needed immediately we move, and these boxes will be relegated to the basement shelves.

Then I took the boxes back up to the attic, and packed up the items for the thrift store, carrying them all to the attic stairs landing. Now, the stairs are narrow, steep, and have a bend part way down, and I’m not what you might call agile. BD was out birding. So I carefully stepped backward down the stairs, bumping a box from one step to the next, until I was on the bedroom floor landing and could stand up with the box in my arms. Eight times. Then down the next flight of stairs, and out to the car, where I put the boxes in the back seat.

That left about eight largish pictures in frames, and two large mirrors that were in the attic when we moved in twenty-two years ago. Plus two portable baseboard heaters. These were beyond me. When BD came home, he, much more agile, carried them down the stairs and stowed them in the trunk of my car. The thrift store has a nice young man of about twenty who will take them (and the boxes) out of my car tomorrow.

What is left up there? Six garbage bags, which we’ll bring down in stages for curbside pickup – we’re limited to three bags every second week. A desk and a bookshelf which will wait for the professional movers. The painting equipment that is still in use. I think that’s it. BD will finish painting the space in the next week or two….and then the people that view the house, and the eventual buyer(s), can dream about what they will do with it: a studio? A nanny flat? A playroom? The wide pine boards under the carpet could be sanded and finished. A skylight or two could be installed, along with a spiral staircase to replace the awkward existing stairs. All things I thought about. But I went to Antarctica and Tibet and the Himalayas, to the Amazon and the Serengeti and the jungles of Borneo instead, leaving the promise of the attic space to someone else, in the end.

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