Our household began the new year by having our home's air ducts cleaned.
We had over the years heard various points of view on the wisdom of duct-cleaning -- some claiming it's crucial to HVAC efficiency, others that it's a waste of time and money. Skeptics that we are, we leaned toward the waste-of-money perspective, as evidenced by the fact that we'd never had them cleaned. (Nor, apparently, had several previous owners: one of the items fished out of the vents by the duct-cleaning crew was a newspaper page from January 26, 1969).
But after 27 years of sharing this space with two kids and an assortment of cats, dogs, hamsters and guinea pigs, we decided it couldn't hurt.
There was plenty of ook to clear out, of course. There also was mold growing along the inside duct surfaces. At least that's what the duct-cleaning crew told us as they presented materials detailing the dire consequences of such a situation. No one in our household has ever suffered from respiratory ailments, so I looked at their "mold detector" with a fair amount of distrust. But in the end, the unsavory thought of blowing mold throughout the house every time the furnace fired up persuaded us to ante up for the sporicide treatment and an ultraviolet light to keep regrowth at bay.
I don't know whether we really had mold in our air ducts, or if the stuff they sprayed did anything more than reduce our checkbook balance. I just took their expertise and their recommendation on faith.
And real or imagined, the air does feel fresher these days.
This all crossed my mind as I settled into watching the tv talk shows on this Sunday morning that's just a few days into the new year and a few days away from the inauguration of a new President. The pundits on Meet the Press, the President-elect himself on This Week, even the combatants on a re-run of Friday night's McLaughlin Group, while realistic about the many thorny problems that face our nation and our world, with different points of view about solutions, still seemed ready to be hopeful that the new administration can lead us toward positive steps out of this mess.
I'm hopeful too. Yeah, we've got a a really big build-up of problems, the existence of which I don't question like I did the mold in the air ducts. There's a whole lot of dirt, contaminants and worse that, frankly, we all had a role in contributing to, and all must help clean up. I know it won't be easy and will probably entail some pain and personal sacrifice.
But I trust the new guy. I am taking it on faith that he has the smarts, the will and the right sporicide to move forward in an appropriate, positive way that will disinfect the mold and set a healthier course.
And that makes me breathe easier. For now, at least.