I actually wrote this several years ago, but I was just thinking about it as I hung out my clothes this morning. I guess some things never change. HA
Just Hanging Around
Judy Ware 2005
I was hanging out clothes this morning and sort of chuckling to myself. In our wonderful world of modern conveniences, I seem to take perverse pleasure in loading up my basket of wet clothes, grabbing the wooden clothespins (they have to be wooden; plastic ones are just too cheesey) and going out to hang my assorted undies and other clothes on the backyard clothesline for God and the world to view. Now to be sure, I DO adhere to the unwritten code of laundry etiquette that you’ll never find officially written anywhere but that everyone just knows! A good example of this etiquette is – you always hang the sheets and towels on the outside lines (the area that can be readily viewed by neighbors) so that you can sneak in the underwear and torn tee-shirts on the lines in between. Pillow cases and nice shirts go on the second line; spacing them carefully so that the gap that may appear between the sheets on the outside line is now covered and those “unmentionables” in the very middle can maintain their privacy. Got that? It really is rather like a science. I’m not exactly sure what the penalty is for hanging a bra next to a towel on the outside line, but I figure I’m too old to start taking those kinds of risks now.
Anyway . . . back to my original thought. Here I am hanging my clothes out while my puppy-brained dog bounds from one blade of grass to another (making sure that no uninvited ant or beetle has invaded her turf) and I can’t help but think that my mother, grandmother, and my great grandmother are sitting around on a cloud somewhere just shaking their heads in bewilderment at me. Oh, the weary hours they had to spend doing the same chore, and what they would have given for nice little machine sitting right inside the house that could do (in a matter of minutes ) what I will need most of the day to accomplish – with cooperation from the sun. They must be even MORE perplexed by the fact that I get such joy out of it! I’ll bet they scratch their heads and debate what kind of “ist” I am – mascochist, anti-modernist, exhibitionist? I must admit, I have asked myself the same question, and (although I haven’t gleaned any hard & fast answers), a few wisps of thought have floated by on the same wind that blows my underdrawers.
Could it be that this age-old task brings back memories of a simpler, easier time of life – even if it is only in my desired perception of that time?? Could it be that it represents some intangible thread that ties me closer to my mom as memories resurface of her doing the same thing? Is it some retro hippy message from my college days in the seventies to just “let it all hang out?” I know . . . maybe it’s an active rebellion to childhood warnings of “never air your dirty laundry for the neighbors to see!?” Nah – it couldn’t be that! I keep my dirty laundry indoors – right beside by dust bunnies.
One thing that I know for sure is that it certainly is NOT an excuse to try and impress the neighbors!! Satin sheets have long since given way to sturdy, sensible cotton (or flannel,) and lacey “teddies” have pretty much gone the way of the do-do bird. At my age, thongs are still something to be worn on your feet, and (although the cup size on the bra may be larger than it was a few years ago) closer inspection would dispel any great sense of mystery there. I have discovered that the “C&S” ratings change on lingerie in accordance with your age. At twenty, you’re looking for cleavage and sexuality. At fifty, you buy for comfort and support!! Besides, the little expando-tab dangling from the hook in the back tends to be less than alluring.
Ah, ha!! Now that we’ve traveled down that tawdry little path a bit, I realize exactly why I love my rendezvous with the clothesline. It provides a totally “sensual” experience!! Now stop laughing and bear with me here. Hanging my laundry outside gives me the excuse to walk out my door, stop for a moment, lift my face up to the shining sun, and feel that glorious warmth radiating down on me. For just that short period of time, there are no telephones, no hum of computers and refrigerators, no ticking of a clock, no doorbell, no distractions – – – just me, God, and clean jeans. The warmth of that same sun envelopes me like an old friend and somehow I feel safe and warm and “clean” as I hang out the other various articles of clothing.
Then the gentle breeze that I know will hasten their drying comes in to call and decides to tickle my ear. It plays silly games with my hair as I dart between the sheets and makes me feel young again. If the day is just perfect enough, the breeze will also play hide & seek in the trees, and the sound of the leaves laughing together will echo through the yard. If I’m really, really lucky, a squirrel will fuss or a bird will add its’ little song to the melody around me as well.
Each piece of laundry smells so clean and fresh, but that aroma is intermingled so closely with the scent of the hyacinths and roses and freshly mowed grass that it’s hard to tell where one starts and the other one stops. Oh, that we could bottle that smell for sale!! For a brief, blessed moment, the world smells like flowers & grass & clean shirts.
I take guilty pleasure in the meanderings I allow myself after the last sock is hung by its’ worn-out toe. I mean, you CAN’T just simply walk back inside without first checking out the garden tomatoes, right?? A little snip here and a little snap there of the dead leaves only remind me that I need to fill the squirrel feeder again with peanuts. No wonder they were fussing at me!! Did you know that peanuts make you awfully thirsty?? Well, I just need to take a little more time to fill the birdbath with fresh water – – – don’t need thirsty squirrels or dirty birds!! If I tarry long enough at the birdbath, my nice neighbor might come out, and we could spend another lovely afternoon chatting over the back fence. Yes indeed, I do wonder why there is so much appeal to hanging my clothes on the backyard clothesline!!
I think I’ll go put another load in!