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Saturday, April 26, 2008

Airing the Laundry

“Are you sure those are going to dry?” asked Ana as she opened the door for me to carry out a load of wash to the back yard this morning.

“No I’m not,” I smiled. “We’ll just have to see.”

All sentient beings mark the turning of the seasons in some way. From the ritual of the ground hog’s shadow to my daughter Amy’s observation of the many phases of Patterson’s, our local fruit and vegetable stand. One of my bench marks for Spring, along with the scent of blooming plants, is the hanging out of the laundry.

Spring here in the Pacific Northwest has been delayed this year. I don’t know where she’s been. We’ve had a couple of glimpses, but she seems to be thumbing her nose at the Vernal Equinox. As recently as last weekend, the middle of April, we’ve been treated to sleet, hail, and snow as Winter appears to be leaving kicking and screaming.

“I never seem to get caught up on the laundry anymore,” observes Ana who does the portion created by my son, their son and her.

“Welcome to motherhood,” I always reply.

Until I can get the family to go along with my idea of “Naked Day” whereby everyone stays home and wears their birthday suit for a complete day so that we get caught up, laundry never seems to take a holiday. This is the time of year when I gamble that the sun will be warm enough and the day long enough for the laundry to dry.

I love hanging out laundry. I always have. Once, when my oldest was a baby and I was visiting my grandmother in the Ozarks she got tickled with me for being inordinately happy over a line of freshly washed diapers (yes, moms, that’s what we used before everyone began stuffing the landfill with “disposable” diapers) hanging in her back yard. They looked beautiful with the yard and neighboring pasture behind them.

Besides being ecological, air dried laundry just smells so good when you bring it in. So with the promise of a dry day including temperatures over 60 degrees I looked out the window and announced that today was the first day I’d attempt it. We don’t have a tremendous amount of line space—just one line between two hug Doug Firs and two folding racks, but I can get a lot out there and seeing the laundry hanging makes me nonsensically happy.

So, we’ll see how today’s batch goes. We are not into reliable laundry hanging weather by any means, but we are easing that way.


Kim Thompson said...


This post was dreamy.

You know, I'd love to hang out laundry, but I have moderate to severe allergies involving pollens (particularly tree pollens). I've tried drying things outside, but then I get sick.

I wonder if there are tips or tricks to do this for people like me?

Stephanie Frieze said...

At our home at the beach I have a very long laundry line on a pully and in the summertime the sea breezes dry the clothes faster than the electric dryer, but our situation on the corner and along a busy street that turns into a highway has always made me wonder what else might be in my laundry besides sea breezes. I doubt if you could prevent the stuff in the air that you're allergic to from falling on your clothes, but maybe a very few minutes in the dryer on fluff would filter out the pollen. Hopefully there's a reader who's got an idea!

Kim Thompson said...

Well, I will tell you this, ocean air, is the BEST air for me.

Now I just need a cool beach house. Now, that would be DREAMY all right!

So, I'll take tips on allergy prevention and if someone has a spare beach house they are tired of, let me know (hee,hee).

Stephanie Frieze said...

Yes, Kim, nothing like the ocean air to relax you. We refer to this phenomenon as Peninsula or Beach Time.

Lorraine Hart said...

Oh, don't smells take you back in time? I could immediately smell the sunshine on the sheets of my childhood when I read this! The smell seemed to be released again as they were ironed.

I have my little wooden folding racks that can be set up on the sunny back deck...and pulled in quickly, if the weather changes.

Luckily I don't have your allergies Kim (I'm sorry you suffer with them!) though I do have allergies to so many laundry products. I only use Seventh Generation or Planet soaps and unscented dryer sheets when I have to.

Stephanie...LOVE your idea of "Naked Day"...oh, one blessed moment of being caught-up! tee-hee.

Stephanie Frieze said...

I once worked with a newly married student teacher who moved to a family home after graduation where rose bushes, with lavender planted in between, ran next to the clothes line. She said that the clothes smelled heavenly, especially if they got left out over night. That night air can be pretty sweet even if without roses and lavender.

Lorraine Hart said...

Summer of ' on a little farm just outside Sunnybrae, Nova Scotia. No electricity or running water, so I hauled water from the creek into a tin tub. I had a piece of wood like a broom handle with a wooden circle attached to the bottom. Put in a little of the organic castille soap...and start agitating with that stick! It felt good to be young and felt good to tread lightly and lovingly on the earth.

We've been having our earth day daily celebrations for a long time now, eh Steph? We'll just keep walking the walk, each in the ways we can.

Stephanie Frieze said...

Helping the environment costs time and effort, and yes, eventually money, but nothing like what it costs to prosecute a war. Hanging out the laundry is a baby step that I've always enjoyed even before we realized exactly what we were doing to the environment. Last week's TIME magazine has an extensive article about what it will take to reduce carbon emissions. It's worth checking out.