“After enlightenment, the laundry.”

The house is dark; outside is uninviting. It is an ugly, raw day with a cloud-filled sky. The yard got cleaned this morning, and the guys let Gracie escape through the back gate. They opened it without checking, and off she went. It was a catch me if you can game. Gracie would stop and wait until one of the guys got close then she’d run, stop to wait then run again. Finally I called my friend at the end of the street, and she went right to him.

I still haven’t grocery shopped yet, but today I must as the last of the dry cat food was used to fill their dish this morning. The wash, though, got done yesterday, but it is sitting in the dryer. I’ll get to it sometime.

I remember laundry stiff from the cold hanging on the lines. My mother would brave the weather, bring in the still damp laundry and hang it in the cellar so it would dry. She always hung up her laundry in the same way. Shirts were clothes-pinned to the line by their bottom edges and one shirt was attached to the next so three clothespins hung up two shirts. It was the same with sheets though she’d double those over the line. I don’t remember us having anything but white sheets back then. The clothespins were wooden. My mother would slide the clothespin bag along the line as she hung the clothes. She’d have a clothespin in her hand and one sticking out of her mouth, and then she’d maneuver being careful not to drop the clothes. It was like sleight of hand to hang and pin. My mother was a master.

No one around here hangs clothes anymore. The house next door, a summer rental, has a clothesline hanging between two pine trees, but I only see towels and bathing suits on it. My sister uses her clothesline in the warmer months. It saves money and the clothes, especially the sheets, smell wonderful.

I still remember getting into a bed freshly made with sheets smelling of the sun. It is one of my favorite sense memories, that smell. It is right up there with burning leaves. When I first moved here I had a clothesline, but my allergies didn’t take well to the pine pollen so I had to buy a dryer. I’m still sorry about that.

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15 Comments on ““After enlightenment, the laundry.””

  1. Birgit Says:

    Your shopping list (Cat Food by King Crimson) on YouTube:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JYZaSLiCtjY
    Greetings from an oldfashioned dryer refusenik.

  2. Hedley Says:

    Hills Hoist – The last word in a clothesline

    • Kat Says:

      My Dear Hedley,
      I have seen rotary lines, but none of them were adjustable nor as iconic as the Hills Hoist seems to be!

  3. Bob Says:

    It’s a good thing today that most of us dry our cloths in a drier rather than on a clothesline. Today if we dried them in the sun the cloths would smell from the polluted air in many cities. Last December I was looking out my hotel window in Zuhai China and saw clotheslines on the roofs of the sorounding apartment buildings. Although China may look like a modern industrial state, there were signs that they are still a third world country. The contrast was sharp between the new Mercedes Benz automobiles and the man pushing a hand cart loaded with wood along the street.

    Yesterday morning was the first day that the official temperature almost got down to freezing. The northern suburbs did reach the freezing point but not at the official site at DFW airport. The skies have been clear and the winds light.

    • Kat Says:

      Bob,
      I live in a small town so pollution wouldn’t be a problem. I’d probably get the smell of salt air on a dampish day, and I’d love that. The cities around here still have clotheslines strung between buildings. They are on a roller near the window, and you pull it to get the line moving to and away from you. They come from apartments with no yards for drying or people not wanting to go to the basement to use the washers there.

      We haven’t hit freezing yet here. North of us has, and there was snow a few days ago, but we were too warm and got rain.

      • Bob Says:

        When I was about five we were living in an apartment building in Brooklyn New York. My. Mother had a washer that attached to the faucet in the kitchen sink and she had a clothsline that ran across the open space between the buildings. It ran out the kitchen window just as you described. Thanks for bringing back that memory.

  4. greg mpls Says:

    i’d happily hang out wash to day, but our yard is nicely surrounded
    by trees, populated by large crows who seem to delight in ‘decorating’ the laundry with droppings.

    • Kat Says:

      greg,
      My yard too is filled with trees but there was a section near the house where I could have left the line, but my clothes just absorbed all that pollen, and I had to rewash them all after I started sneezing.

      I swear birds aim; I know for a fact seagulls do!

  5. Caryn Says:

    Hi Kat,
    I have a dog line that runs the width of my house from one tree to another. I clip the dog to it and he runs around while I hang laundry on the half he doesn’t use. Sometimes Rocky gets a little enthusiastic and runs along the whole length, bunching up the clothes or popping off clothespins.
    Currently, the load that was in the dryer on Saturday is still there since I can’t get down the cellar stairs on crutches. I contemplated asking Oil Burner Man if he would unload for me since he was going to be down there anyway but I couldn’t remember if there were unmentionables in that load so I didn’t ask. He probably would have, though.
    It started out nasty and cold but the sun sort of came out later on. Not long enough to really warm up my front porch but even a little sun is better than none.
    Have a great evening.

    • Kat Says:

      Hi Caryn,
      I can see in my mind’s eye the clothes popping off the line while Rocky has the best of times running for all he’s worst.

      I used to leave the clothes in the dryer until i was out of underwear, but I bought so much for my last trip that it would be a few weeks before I’d need that laundry, but I’ll get there in the next couple of days.

      I don’t believe anything is an unmentionable any more.

      No sun all day!

      I am feeling content-I did my grocery shopping though I left some things in the trunk I don’t need yet like laundry detergent, a case of coke and cat litter.

  6. R Henderson Says:

    You invoke the aroma I miss the most from years gone by, that of burning leaves. on any given Saturday in Fall, my parents’ neighborhood was adorned by a cloud of leaf smoke, its low ceiling spread evenly as far as could be seen. Considering this, I can understand the air quality issue ending our annual autumn inferno. Still, you’d think something else might be a bigger culprit. If enough people buy hybrid cars, will they give back our leaf-burning privileges?

    • katry Says:

      Like you, I remember the “cloud of leaf smoke” up and down the street, and I have the most vivid memories of my father in his maroon wool coat standing with rake in hand while he watched the leaves he’d just raked burn. I remember the flames in the middle of the pile. I’d stay with him a while, and my coat would have the smell of those burning leaves, and I loved it.

      You gave me a chuckle with your last sentence. I’d vote for it!

      • Caryn Says:

        One of my friends always burned a small handful of leaves as a tiny protest and in remembrance of things past. 🙂 If I raked leaves, I would do the same.

  7. Kat Says:

    I would too, Caryn!


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