Monday, June 07, 2010

The Clothesline

One of the first things we could see when pulling into the driveway at my grandparents' house was the clothesline.  Grandma used it exclusively, having both an outdoor line and an indoor line.  I don't think she ever owned a dryer.  The outdoor clothesline paralleled the driveway a distance of maybe thirty feet, four sagging green lines strung between two rusty T-poles.  I never did figure out why the clothesline was green instead of white, and I've never seen a green clothesline besides hers.

There was an indoor clothesline in the guffy house, a stretch of six or eight feet behind the washing machine, an old cranker machine that worked its magic decades after the rest had been put out of commission.  Grandma never owned a washing machine besides that one, but she did share her washboard with me once... a cheese grater without holes it looked like.  Too much work for this city kid.

And more than the clothesline, I remember Grandma having oodles of clothespins.  Every room had clothespins in it.  For me, they were toys.  Simple clamps, levers, art supplies.  I never grew tired of pinching my fingertips, ears, nose, lips, and sister with them.  We rounded them up when Grandma needed to hang laundry, handing them to her one by one as she hung "britches," "stockings," and "bedclothes."  Pants, socks, and sheets as I knew them (and still call them).  She didn't have any of the friction pins, the one-piece clothespins that look like dolls.

As I've grown, moved to bigger cities, and forgotten much of what life was like visiting the farm, I've lost connections to the rural life.  Not that Corvallis is particularly urban, but compared to the wide-open space of the farm, it's claustrophobic.  Seeing the T-poles of the old clothesline this weekend made me realize how important living "close to the land" is and how I want to incorporate some of those ways of life into my world.

I want to be a mom with clothespins.  Of course, I also want to save money by hanging laundry instead of drying it with electricity... but there's a "cool" factor in there somewhere--a homey, thrifty, sensible cool.


The Guy Who Writes This said...

My mother never had a drier. We have a drier, but rarely use it. We plan laundry day around the forecasts.

Rachel said...

I have a "clothes line" here in Rio. It's rare to have a dryer. Space and cost being the reasons. We have this rack thing that I can lower from the ceiling and raise back up with the wet clothes. It's a pain in the ass. Yes my clothes last longer, no need for jeanzzerise after washing jeans, and the pins are great for toys and closing chips bags. On the other hand, it takes forever for clothes to dry in the winter!

There is something to say though about seeing all my clean clothes hanging. You can see your work and the clean. And you get an upper body workout at the same time.

Anonymous said...

Odd that you wrote about hanging out clothes. I got to do it today!!! Ummmm fresh sheets and towels. Nothing beats that smell.