Friday, October 1, 2010

There's Something About Clotheslines

I made a huge mistake the other day.  I oiled my clothesline pulley. I got out the WD40 and sprayed the moving parts. For weeks I had thought that the squeak it made was annoying.  Wrong. Oh, so wrong.

My clothesline now moves noiselessly.  And to my chagrin, in its silence it has lost its charm...its essence...its authenticity...its squeaky 'you know that sound in your soul' clotheslineness.

As a child growing up in the 50s, clotheslines were the norm.  One of my earliest memories was venturing to the ditch in front of our house where on that particular and every other Monday morning warm sudsy water poured out from my mother's washing machine.  The clothes would be hung on a long line that stretched to the end of the backyard. In winter, I can remember the clothes being frozen on the line, stiff and brittle with frosty ice.

I believe that clotheslines mark both a social and environmental evolution. There was a time when a clothes dryer was a status symbol, and the use of a clothesline an indication of lower economic status. Eventually dryers became the norm. I remember a time in suburban  Ottawa when clotheslines were actually banned as unsightly and inconvenient reminders of the reality of daily life.

And now, the 'green' generation has discovered that if you hang your laundry outside in the air and the wind and the sunshine, it will not only dry, but it will smell wonderful and, guess what, it's free!

Clotheslines also say something about the reality of the lives of women.  As a young stay-at-home mother I had time to hang my laundry on the line.  Later as a working mother, I depended upon my clothes dryer. Now, in my 50s, I again have the time to hang my laundry on the line, and cherish the sun and wind and intoxicating aroma of nature-dried laundry.

And there's another side to the clothesline that appeals to the little bit of obsessive-compulsive in all of us. It demands to be orderly: Sheets bisected and hung straight to dry, pillowcases following; towels arranged by size; shirts, underwear, socks, each grouped together. I'll be the first to admit that I have rehung items on my line because to my mind, they were obviously out of order.  (Question to self: Would men do this?)

I love my clothesline.  I love being out of doors to hang the laundry. I appreciate that I am blessed to have the time to make use of nature.  I revel in the wonderful aroma of freshly dried laundry.

There's just something about clotheslines....