Sunday, June 23, 2013

Laundry on the line

Years ago, when I lived alone, had one income, a big yard, no children and time on my hands, I decided to try hanging my laundry out to dry during the summer. I don't recall exactly what motivated this earth shattering decision.  I suppose it seemed like a good idea with outside temperatures in the triple digits.  Why run the dryer when there was a clothes oven right outside my door? 
Naturally I had to go through the process of procuring the correct line on which to hang the clothes.  This required internet research, reading of online product reviews and price comparisons.  I finally decided on a retractable line that rolled up neatly into its storage compartment when not in use. 
Once the line was purchased and hung, I began to consider the finer details of hanging my laundry out to dry.  Was it ok to hang my underwear out in plain sight of my neighbors?  (I spent a lot of time on this particular question.  A lot.) Would birds fly over and poop on my clothes?  How many clothespins do I need to hang a load of laundry?  (More than you might think...and multiply x2 when you upgrade to a large-capacity washer.)
It's trickier than it seems....this laundry hanging business. 
Over the years I became a laundry hanging pro.  I patted myself on the back regularly for saving the earth and conserving energy.  I learned how to read the breeze to know exactly what pieces would require a clothespin and which would stay on the line without that extra bit of insurance.  Summer time came to mean crunchy towels and wrinkled clothing because that's just how it works when you hang your clothes outside to dry.
Surprisingly, hanging laundry out to dry is one of the very few things that I still have/make time for now that life is busy and we have three kids.  Each summer I think to myself, "I'm so busy.  I'm so tired.  I just don't have one more spare minute to bother hanging up the laundry this year."  But, for whatever reason, it happens.  The dryer goes into hibernation and I hit the yard with my basket of laundry and trusty clothespins. 
Sometimes the kids help.  Sometimes they hinder.  Once in a while I don't time it right with our automatic sprinklers and the laundry goes through a second rinse cycle on the line.  Every so often there is bird poop.  Occasionally the wind is stronger than my clothespins.  But overall we usually have laundry success. 

The clothes always get dry. 

Maybe that is the draw.  The fact that I can complete a task without plugging anything in is somewhat of a novelty.  In this fast-paced world, there is a certain comfort to slowing down and doing something the old fashioned way, especially when the result is just as good as the modern method.  On the crazy days, it is an excuse to get out of the house and be by myself for a few minutes.  Sometimes it is a good time for the kids to stand on their tip-toes and see how many clothes they can clip on the low-hanging part of the line.  Every summer they reach a little bit higher.  And as we hang the laundry I am reminded to slow down, unplug and take notice. 

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