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Natural Awakenings SW PA, Greater Pittsburgh

Think Outside the House: Expanding Spring Cleaning

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Spring cleaning traditionally heralds a new beginning, an opportunity to take stock of hearth and home and a time of renewal regardless of the season. Clearing figurative cobwebs is as important as sweeping away real ones, and while most folks focus on giving their abode a thorough airing and scrubbing, there’s plenty to tend to outside before the heat of summer sets in.

Clear out potentially dead grass and leaves and other organic matter near the sides of the house to prevent termites and other insect infestations. Collect the organic matter, add in food scraps and compost it all to benefit the garden. Composting sends the nutrients of loose ingredients into the soil as a natural fertilizer. Eartheasy reports it can help divert as much as 30 percent of household waste from the garbage can.

Make sure to check the top and outer walls of the house. Upraised nails in a shingled roof or deteriorated shingles or gaps where plumbing vent pipes penetrate the surface—possibly due to high winds, falling branches or ice thawing in colder climes—can produce small breaks and holes for water to seep through onto tops of ceilings. That can possibly lead to mold as summer temperatures rise and water leaks into the interior of the house. The Old House Web says collars of vent pipes should be tight, as “some older [ones] can loosen over time and even some newer rubber collars crack and leak long before the shingles fail.” Also, check the gutters to make sure they are clear of packed leaves and tree branches.

Don’t forget the family car, which may need its own spring cleanup. Go green with a natural soap to remove slush and grime, and then take a close look at the toll the past year has taken. Pebbles and rocks may have been kicked onto the sides of the car, resulting in small chips and abrasions of the paint from which rust might spread. The nonprofit Car Care Council recommends covering the areas as quickly as possible and if necessary to use a little clear nail polish—nontoxic, of course—as a quick fix for minor paint damage until a proper touch-up can be scheduled.

Then there’s the undercarriage. Salt particles that may have been used in treating roads and highways in icy regions may be lodged into crevices which can corrode metal and functional parts. Make sure the hose sprayer also reaches these areas.
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Global Brief: Natural Thinking Spending Time in Nature Increases Cognitive Performance
More of our time is spent indoors than ever before. One of the ways by which nature may improve cognitive function (i.e. the acquisition of and goal-oriented use of knowledge) is by improving memory formation and recall, specifically that of short-term or working memory, and goal-oriented or directed attention; the kind that requires focused effort. By comparing and contrasting 13 studies, a team of researchers has shed light on this complex interaction in research published in Frontiers in Psychology. The studies used the backwards digit span task, which requires participants to invert a series of numbers and repeat them back. All demonstrated significantly improved cognition in nature as compared to urban environments. The benefits of studies like this are two-fold: not only are we learning more about how the brain interacts with its environment, but also how to leverage this interaction to lead healthier, more productive and happier lives.
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