Wednesday, July 06, 2005

The Clothes line

Tonight when I go to bed, my tired body will lay down on fresh smelling clean sheets, sun and air dried just hours earlier. I love the way fabrics smell when they are hung on the clothes line. My clothes dryer is virtually unused from the first warm day of spring through the fall. I plan my laundry around the nice sunny days so that I can hang things out. The only things I do not dry outside on the line are the unmentionables (no need for the neighbors to see those) and socks. My oldest daughter wishes that I would add the towels to the list. She thinks they are to scratchy when dried on the line.

I know it seems silly to be hanging clothes outside when I have a perfectly good dryer right next to my washer. I am certainly the only one in my neighborhood who does such a strange and eccentric thing. Some towns and communities even have laws that forbid clothes line. I am not sure what they found so offensive about a clothesline that legislation was needed to regulate its use?

I could tell you all about the money savings. After all, I am not using electricity or gas to dry my clothes so it is very environment friendly but that's not why. I dry clothes on the clothes line because it connects me to the woman of the past. It is what they did and what they taught me to do. They did it because they did not have an easier way to do it. I do it because it reminds me of them. It is a meditative time. There is a rhythm to hanging out clothes. The sun is shining, the breeze is blowing and time stands still. It may be a chore but it is an enjoyable one.

I was in a small town antique store this spring on my way through another state when I spotted a clothes pin bag just like the one I remembered my grandmother having. I paid $9.35 for it. She had gotten hers free as a promotion for laundry soap. I have tried numerous things over the years to hold my clothes pins but I have been unhappy with all of them. I could not believe my good luck in finding one and in such excellent condition. The only thing I am missing now is the metal cart that the laundry basket sat on in the yard. It was a wheeled cart that rolled down the sidewalk stratigically placed in front of the clothes line. With the cart there is no having to bend over to the basket on the ground each time you are ready to hang a new item.

I actually prefer the straight line clothes line that stretches across the yard but for the past several years I have been using a clothes line made for me by my great uncle. It is a large rectangle on a heavy duty center post and holds 5 full size loads of laundry at one time. On a wash day I can fill that clothes line full twice.

Woman used to wash clothes on Monday's and talk over their fences as they hung out their clothes. It was a social time for the neighborhood. I don't have any neighbor woman to talk to over the clothes line but I have my daughters and they are learning the art of the clothes line. They are learning about their family history as I tell them stories about their grandmothers and great grandmothers . I am also helping them to appreciate a slower pace in life. Not everything has to be done now. Some things are worth waiting on, like line dried sheets.