Wednesday, April 07, 2010

White washed nostalgia

Today I bought a hundred feet of bright yellow nylon rope and two packages of wooden clothes pins.  Gary strung the line between two cedar trees for me, bolstering it in the middle with a T-post.  I carried a laundry basket ladened with wet clothes out and hung them on the line for the first time in at least fifteen years.

In my life, dryers are a relatively recent luxury. I grew up without one, as my earthy mother considered them a waste of electricity. The little house we rented when the boys were small had fenced in yard with room for a small garden plot and a clothes line. I didn't need a dryer, we didn't have room for one, and hanging laundry just wasn't that much more work. Additionally, I didn't believe in disposables either, at least not until I had two boys in diapers at the same time (funny how that works). But the next two rental houses didn't have room for both a clothes line and a garden so I had to choose between the two (my priorities are obviously clear).  I've had a dryer ever since.

I'd forgotten what it was like to hang a load of wet clothes up, one article at a time, popping each as I went, pairing socks, filling every available inch of line with articles of cloth. And I didn't know it, but I'd missed taking them down again, how they smell of sun and wind, how easy it was just to fold them and go inside and put them away.

My dryer is broken (the motor perhaps?). We'll either repair it or buy a "new" one next week. Meanwhile I'm going to appreciate the extra time in the sun, the memories of bright white cloth diapers, the onesies, and little socks, all hanging by the dozen. The line gives me a great view of the garden in the side yard and the bird feeders in the front. I can hear my wind chimes ringing and smell the grass and feel the decisive snap of the clothes pins, shaking the wrinkles out of the universe as I go.

While I'm at it, I'm going to introduce the boys to this forgotten skill. I'm particularly interested in educating the one who, as I was explaining it to them, wise cracked, "Yes, Mom, we know you used to do it this way when you were a kid. You had to lug it up hill, both ways, in the snow, right?" (In case you're wondering, this was Joseph, the red-headed middle child, who is very nearly fifteen years old, and possesses a seriously wicked sense of humor, but does not always think before he fires off one liners).

I squinted at him. That's right son, and when I'm done with you, you'll be able to tell the same story. Only at the rate you're going, yours is likely to involve a lot more beatings.

His blue eyes widened.  "Would you like me to hang the first load?"

Maybe I'll wait a month or so before replacing that dryer.


Happy Elf Mom (Christine) said...

LOL Go cut me a switch, kid. :O

You are hilarious! But the weather *has* been lovely... um, except for those torrential downpours! Isn't your laundry soaked??

Debby said...

LOL. Gotta love those quick witted kids. I checked. We made 'em, we gotta love 'em. It's the law, Mary. It's the law.

And now that they are grown and I get my wit fixes via the phone or the computer, I actually miss the little smart mouths more than I would have guessed.

Dennis Bryant said...

When I was growing up, one end of the clothsline was usually tied to the mailbox :-D

Scotty said...

Hehe, loved it - brought back memories of Mum cutting loose with a couple of quick one-liners when we kids grizzled a bit too much.

We used to walk to school on our hands because we couldn't afford shoes... and stuff like that.


Pencil Writer said...

Oh, the memories! I remember when my Mom had 3 in diapers at the same time. EVERY day--except maybe Sunday's--we hung out wash--mostly diapers. I remember being nine and taking a chair out so that I could either hang or take down the wash. Talk about time consuming. Can you imagine having to move a chair every few feet while hanging out wash? But, I must agree. Nothing beats the sun and wind fragrance a clothesline provides. Thanks for the memories . . .

Mary O. Paddock said...

Thanks Mrs C. No rain here this week or next week either as it stands right now. So far it's been a dry cool spring this year.

Debby--I do love 'em. I just wish they'd use their powers for good. :)

Dennis--I'll remember that. 'Maybe take up the BB gun myself.

Scotty--Some days I feel a little out numbered by all the male "grizzling" (great word, btw). 'Gotta be fast on your feet around here or you'll get trampled.

PW--I'll bet you were glad when you got tall enough that you didn't need the chair anymore. :) All four of the boys have now experienced hanging clothes on the line. The two younger ones actually don't mind it all that much.

Scotty said...

Male grizzling - there has to be a poem in that, surely?


Mary O. Paddock said...

Yes, indeed it would, Scotty.

Mary Q Contrarie said...

My dryer broke about two years ago and we were going to replace it in a couple weeks. I could get by until the next paycheck just using a couple clothes drying racks. Well two years later I still have not replaced it. I found that my utility bill went down almost 10% in the summer and 6% in the winter.
The best thing is it is a great excuse to go outside a couple times a day.