Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Hung Out to Dry

From the bean of Green Bean.

I would love to post, today, about how I ditched my sponge for a cleaner, more plastic free home or wax eloquent in response to the new APLS Carnival topic (it's a hard one!) or even detail how I baked my way through a bumper crop of backyard lemons this past week. Alas, I'm knee deep (quite literally) in a rummage sale to raise desperately needed funds for my son's school. So, today, instead, I'll repeat what I wrote, over at my defunct personal blog, Green Bean Dreams, about finding beauty in simpler things. Please grab a clothespin and join me.

Despite last night's rain, the sun is out and streaming across the sky. Thick white clouds - the kind that remind kids of cotton candy - crowd out the blue in patches. The breeze is up - prime clothes drying weather.

Three years ago, when we replaced the tumble down fence separating our yard from our neighbors, we extended the fence to hide their garbage cans and to give us a long, narrow enclosed side yard. We subsequently tore out the overgrown ornamental bushes and put down flagstone and drought tolerant ground cover. Morning glories now climb the fence and peek over its latticed top. Against the fence, tucked in between stones, raspberry bushes leaf out. On one side of the walk is a high gate to the front yard. On the other side lies my backyard garden. A butterfly bushes stretches from it's winter sleep and a penstemon cradles the bird bath. A large windmill stands at attention, ready to welcome crawling runner beans and lemon cucumbers. Spring's early white butterflies tilt and dance among the blueberry bushes. This is where we strung up my clothesline.

Beyond the garden, two bird feeders sway with repeat visitors. Last week, the eggplant colored berries on the trees shading the lawn's remnants had apparently ripened. Aside from the usual orioles and sparrows, the trees rocked and waved with robins, jays and chickadees gorging on spring. The berries are now but a memory - devoured in just two days.

Inside, once the washer quiets itself, it is drying time. Now that the rains are, for the most part, gone, laundry heads out to the clothesline to dry. This morning, I carry my brimming wicker basket, startling a couple of phoebes pecking around for some bug or other. A squirrel freezes on the fence then leaps to a nearby tree. I set my basket on the flagstone and methodically bend down to retrieve a shirt, a pair of pants, a wash cloth and pin them to the clothesline. The birds decide that I am no threat and return to their tasks. Finches warble to each other over the thistle seed. A jay scolds a squirrel that has come to close. Robins swoop down to search for worms. I can even hear the buzz of bees investigating the strawberry flowers and flowering maple on the garden's edge. The breeze frolics with the clothes, shaking out wrinkles, sending a drying breath against the damp fabric.

My youngest pads around the corner in stockinged feet. I am found. I will also assume that the screen door is wide open - ushering every fly in the county in to sample our farmers' market strawberries. I hand the little guy a dish towel and a clothespin, showing him how to hang the towel over the line and clip it in place. He succeeds and smiles up at me, asking for another. We proceed, working quietly, until the clothesline is full and sags beneath its weight. Each of us take one of the basket's handles and walk back to the house - this time closing the screen door behind us.

Some people may find this method of drying clothes strange, outdated or a waste of time. To me, it is my meditation, my yoga, my 15 minutes a day when nothing but birds and butterflies clamber for attention and only wet towels beckon to be hung out to dry.


Anonymous said...

This is lovely. It reminds me of Adair Lara's book Hanging Out the Wash. Have you read it?

EcoBurban said...

LOL, You stole my post! Just kidding, but I had actually planned on a laundry post for tomorrow. However, mine won't be as idyllic or serene as yours. Maybe I would enjoy laundry more if it was as peaceful as it is at your house? Lovely post as always, GB.

Heather @ SGF said...

This is the one change I keep dragging my feet on. I want to do it, too. Perhaps when I get the rest of my raised beds in (have 5 more to add to the garden), it'll be obvious where my clothes line should be...

Farmer's Daughter said...

I use my dryer. It's only 2 loads a week, since we have high capacity/high efficiency machines.

Also... I don't want my neighbors to see my underwear.

Christine said...

Here in the UK all houses, as far as I know, have a clothes line in the garden. Some people choose not to use them but I don't think there's any 'law' against it. Even on damp winter days it's possible to get some of the 'wetness' out and just finish off in the airing cupboard overnight.
I brought up three daughters in cloth nappies (diapers)without a tumble dryer as the cost of running one was out of the question on my hubby's small salary.
I find it quite strange that in the USA people are discouraged from doing what is perfectly normal and passes without comment here and the rest of Europe.

Carmen said...

I can really relate to this post. Very beautifully written, thanks.

Green Bean said...

Elbales: I haven't read it but it sounds like I should!

EB: You should totally post anyway. There is much more to be said about hanging laundry out.

Heather: I have to agree with you. I think one of the biggest things about hanging clothes up - or any other green task which isn't necessarily fun of its own accord - is to find some enjoyment in it. If you're clothes line has a dingy view or is surrounded by, I dunno, dog poo, well, you'll not be in a rush to run out there and hang some clothes up.

Abbie: Oh come on! Your neighbors are probably dying to see your skivvys. :)

Christine: Such a great point. Here, in America, we just naturally do things a certain way because we've been taught that way is best. Alot of living lighter is just changing habits. This is one habit worth changing - as I note every March or April when I see my electricity bill cut in half.

Carmen: Thank you!

JessTrev said...

Oh, how peaceful! I wish I had space to hang more clothes. I love the description of your plants...I can picture the berries and penstemon now. Hope the rummage sale went well!

Electronic Goose said...

Beautifully written, GB.

EcoLabel Fundraising said...

The smell of line dried sheets is simply fabulous!

kale for sale said...

I want to hear about the rummage sale when you're done! I'm sure it will be a wild success.

Betty Black said...

Nothing to do with this post sorry, I found a post on your old blog which was a letter by your brother about Prop 8 and I wonderd if it would be okay for me to post it on my blog?


I would post the whole thing not edit it at all. I really think its a lovely letter and it sort of makes me happy even though the Prop passed in California. If its allrigt just let me know in my posts.


Green Bean said...

Betty, find to repost.

Katrina, I'll post about it next week. Still brain dead from lack of sleep and working 50+ hrs in a 4 day time period. Went well though.


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