Monday, June 16, 2008

Country Pleasures

We used to have a clothesline -- but it involved negotiating a steep path with a heavy basket of wet laundry and eventually I used it less and less, opting for the ease of the electric clothes dryer. Now, with rising awareness of our carbon footprint (and rising electric bills), it's time to reconsider. Our lovely new solar powered, retractable clothes dryer is conveniently located a few steps from the washer.

I'd forgotten the pleasure of composing a sort of ad hoc color display, the gorgeous smell of sun-dried sheets and towels, the housewifely pleasure of pegging out the wash, just like the mom on the old Lassie TV show (Luke, don't forget we have that Grange meeting to go to tonight.)

Yes, there are down sides -- the stiff-as-a-board towels (think of them as exfoliating agents), the sudden thunderstorms, the not-quite-dry-at-the-end-of-the-day jeans. I'm not getting rid of my electric dryer -- I'm relegating it to backup status.

A homely pleasure, like dogs in pickup trucks or fresh-gathered eggs, the clothesline reminds me of the way things ought to be.

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13 comments:

Kathryn Stripling Byer said...

Vicki, I've had a clothesline for over 30 years and no dryer. Hanging out the laundry is my favorite chore, and yes, the downsides you mention are real, but we've learned to live with them. I have clotheslines in my poems. And Lee Smith has a wonderful image of the clothes dancing on the line in Fair and Tender Ladies.
Kay

Susan M. Bell said...

I love and miss the smell of sheets that have dried on a line. I want to get a retractable line for my backyard, but haven't been able to find one long enough yet. The local Wal-Mart only carries one that is 5' long. (Where did you get yours?) I will never be able to hang out my hubby's jeans, as he hates how they feel when not dried in the dryer, but I would love to go back to the days of sheets, towels, etc dried in the beautiful, warm sunshine.

Vicki Lane said...

Kay, Of course I should have guessed a poet would have a clothesline! I thought of your poems and of the Fair and Tender Ladies image this morning! I also remembered two recent funerals for local friends, where they had a screen with a slide show of family pictures interspersed with stock images -- among the images of rolling pastures and apple pie and shade trees and contented cattle was a shot of a clothesline with white sheets flapping. Iconic, I guess.

Susan, Our clothesline came from Amazon http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0000BYDEA

It's available other places slightly cheaper but with very high shipping. We get free shipping from Amazon because we have a credit card through them (We buy lots of used books -- mostly out of print one, I hasten to add.)

Pat in TN said...

Oh I do miss my clothesline (the wonderful smell/the stiff towels, but mainly looking out my kitchen window at everything flopping in the breezes), and I used to have a wringer washer too. I really do miss it. Laundry day used to be a favorite day of mine ... kind of an 'event', with the chugging of the old Maytag and back and forth to the clothesline. We used to laugh at the frozen clothes in the winter that we would bring in to melt/dry by the woodstove.

Vicki, I may have to check yours out on Amazon ... a retractable one would work out great here. Thanks for the info.

Amelia Walton said...

oh the clothesline! Drew and I have been debating the clothesline because, on the one hand we would like to have one for all the reasons you note, but living in the city, I get worried that I might look out and see that my clothes have gone on to another home. I think that we're giving it a shot, so hopefully the next time you see me I won't be without jeans or sheets!

Vicki Lane said...

Oh, Pat, I used my neighbor Louise's wringer washer a few times and have to say I don't really miss that experience. Come to that, when we lived in the barn I did one or two washes with a wash board and water from the branch heated on the Coleman stove. The amount of water it took! Don't miss that either.

And Amelia -- hadn't thought about the possibility of theft from your clothesline. Bummer!

Sadie said...

I'm getting ready to get a clothesline again and loved reading all the comments. Many, many years ago, when living in a South American jungle, I washed all our clothes by hand. I can tell you, I don't miss that! Specially after one afternoon when I went out to do some wash and a poisonous snake was hanging around. Hanging our clothes out to dry is definitely a big help to our environment.

Vicki Lane said...

There was a time years ago when we used our original clothesline that there were two escaped convicts in our area. I actually strapped on a pistol to go hang out clothes (there was an empty cabin just across the branch that would have made a fine place for them to hole up.) That's my exciting clothesline story. (The convicts were captured later that day -- two miles from our house.

And the feeling of virtue, coupled with the smell of clean sheets, is enough reason for a clothesline!

sissy said...

i have just found this post about the pleasures of living in the country. is anybody still blogging about the clotheslines?

Vicki Lane said...

Not me, not recently -- it's been raining for four days now and I'm glad I have an automatic dryer. But as the weather warms, I'll be flying my clothesline flags!

sissy said...

i also have an electric dryer which i use for my hubby's jeans and on rainy days. i have hung out my clothes for as long as i can remember, as my mother and grandmother before her did. it no nice to find other women who are fans of the line. i have a neighbor lady who isn't a fan, and is putting their house on the market soon. she has asked me not to hang my clothes out on my line while they are showing the house. they have four acres and we have five acres. we live way out in the country , which i love whole heartedly. i told her i really think that anybody looking to buy a house here would appreciate signs of peaceful living. she thinks it devalues her property as well as mine. i disagree.

Vicki Lane said...

Oh my goodness! I know some suburbs or developments have rules against clothesline but out in the country . . . please!

And considering that it is an environmentally-friendly practice which out to be encouraged . . . well, suffice it to say I disagree with your neighbor.

sissy said...

well, i can tell you that should my wash day fall on a day when their house will be shown, i will carry on as usual. might even hang the undies on the outsides of the sheets...heehee