Sunday, March 27, 2011

Hung out to Dry

Today was the first day of the year that we were able to hang a load of laundry outside on the clothes line. Now, there have been a few days this spring where the weather has been nice enough to dry clothes but, I guess that laundry was not the priority on those days. Since today was laundry day, the sun and wind seemed to call out for the clothesline. I am always happy when one of the electricity devouring machines in our house can lay dormant.

If I were asked I would probably put forward the view that clothes lines are a totally under appreciated heritage resource. The evolution of this sort of device would go as far back as when humans moved beyond drying their laundered garments on nearby rocks. This centuries old technique allowed clothing to dry quickly while giving them a wonderfully fresh smell. The lack of heritage consciousness about clotheslines is an excellent example of how everyday domestic activities can often be overlooked. To many people throughout history, the successful completion of the weeks laundry was of far more consequence than the manoeuvrings of politicians or the military. Sadly, the views and stories of these individuals are rarely recorded. Whenever I am hanging out the clothes, I briefly get the feeling that I am taking part in an activity that would be familiar to generations before me.

On another note, a few years ago there was a book published that discussed clothes lines. The book espoused a theory that a good clothes line was organized by type, size and colour. Essentially, all of the blue shirts would go together arranged from smallest to largest before moving on to the next colour. The same would happen for pants, socks and other things that needed drying. I am sure that boxers, briefs and other assorted undergarments were hung in a special place of shame so that the neighbours would never see them. The author had actually taken the time to drive around and give grades to clotheslines. Despite my fondness for clotheslines, I recoiled in horror at the concept of this book. The imposed order and social judgment sent me reeling. I have since decided that clothes will be hung on my line in the order that the come to the top of the basket. Anarchy rules at our house!

All for now,

This post was online for a couple of hours and I received an email from my mother. Often the voice of reason to my bombast, she offered the following.

"Both of your Grandmothers hung things grouped together. In fact, I remember Mom having me take clothing off the line and rehang the clothing in the correct way. All of the towels went together, shirts always hung by the bottom were together, pants always hung by the top were together, all undershirts together, followed by underwear, etc. To this day, I can not hang out clothing without at least making an attempt to have the line look orderly and when I pass a clothes line I always notice how the clothing is hung. I am sure there are lots more people who grew up with exactly the same training still doing the same thing."

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