Waxing Nostalgic About Clotheslines – Again
Posted on Thursday, May 31st, 2012
On this very day, a couple years back, I was feeling a bit nostalgic for, of all things, clotheslines. This shouldn’t surprise me. May is a difficult month for me since I lost my Mom back in 2006. With Mother’s Day and my Mom’s birthday and Memorial Day (my Mom was a Marine) all falling in the same month, it’s hard to get through May without a few rough days. Now, throw into the mix that May has been declared National Skin Cancer Awareness Month (my Mom died of malignant melanoma) and you can understand why I would basically like to crawl into bed and sleep the month of May away.
Except for one thing… May is a gorgeous month. It’s the first month, at least in Wisconsin where I grew up, that you could actually start relying on a few nice, warm days. It’s the month when Mom could trust the weather to hang out clothes and they would actually dry. So, on this last day of May, I’m crawling out of my blue funk to celebrate one of the best memories I have growing up – Mom’s Clothesline – by reposting my original observation. I hope you enjoy it, and I hope you will add your comments and share your memories and feelings, too. Here it is:
Do you remember clotheslines?
It’s hard for some people to wax nostalgic about any kind of laundry, let alone having to lug heavy baskets of clothes outside to dry on lines. Line drying clothes is hard work and not often reliable – i.e. rain, sleet, and snow.
I, on the other hand, am a fool for laundry. Any way, any kind, any place. Ask my sisters who I disturbed all evening long washing and drying clothes at a family gathering. hmmmm…. yeah, a bit nuts.
One thing about doing laundry that even my sisters can’t fault me for is the romance of drying clothes outside. All of us siblings are suckers for a clothesline full of sheets, towels, work pants, aprons, and t-shirts billowing in the breeze.
What brings on this nostalgic waxing today? Summer is here. Not officially but certainly within our hearts. In my mind, that’s when we haul out the clothes pins and set our sheets a sail!
Memories of Mom with clothes pins in her apron pocket, expertly arranging the sheets, towels, and clothes so they were all strung together, are a big reason I relish the thought of drying clothes outside on a clothesline. Then the way she hung the shirts and pants in just the right way to catch the wind was a bit of engineering genius. You know what a windsock looks like at an airport? That’s how Mom got those clothes to billow.
The smell of fresh laundry dried in the sun is something you can’t put into words; and no, you can’t bottle it in fabric softener either. There’s a mysterious draw to that aroma, even for a kid. Want a kid to go to bed at night without complaint? Put sheets on the bed that have been on the clothesline all day.
“Simple pleasures for a simple mind” some may say. I say drying clothes on a clothesline is the closest thing you can get to heaven on earth.
There is some controversy in the wind about folks drying their laundry in neighborhoods with strict homeowner association rules about such things. My friend Susanne Myers, the Hillbilly Housewife, has explored this problem at some length in her blog “Remember The Clothesline.”
Susanne, like many of us, believes drying our clothes without the use of electricity is a good idea. It’s too bad these associations can’t bend their rules a bit to help homeowners save money and help us all save our earth’s resources.
Aside from those reasons, it’s the memories that make me want to see more clotheslines with laundry whipping in the breeze.
I know that just once more I’d like to run through a clothesline full of sheets and have Mom holler at me. Then, later that night, bury my face in those same sheets when she tucks me in at night.
And that’s why I’m waxing nostalgic about clotheslines.
p.s. Want to enjoy more clothesline talk? This incredible book, simply called The Clothesline, offers lots of nostalgia, but also has lots of practical stuff, too. This is the kind of stuff we learned from a less complicated time, when women shared household secrets, recipes, and remedies over the back fence.
This book is filled with historic as well as contemporary photographs and illustrations, with tips for everything from creating a fun yet functional laundry room, to laundry collectibles, easy care of heirloom linens, and traditional wash-day recipes like lavender ironing water and verbena soap.
Transport yourself back to simpler times with this frugal and fun way to turn a task into an event! Click on here and buy it today.
The Clothesline – by Andrea VanSteenhouse and Irene Rawlings
p.p.s. Be sure to leave a comment below and share your own ‘clothesline memories’ with me. I’d love to hear your stories! (You can click on and read the comments on my original post here – Waxing Nostalgic About Clotheslines.)
p.p.p.s I linked this post to a Linky-Luv Wordless Wednesday blog post at MomDot.com. I thought the young Moms would enjoy this, too. Go over and take a look around.