Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Zen and the art of hanging out the laundry

Putting Out the Smalls by Alison Moger
(I bought this picture in installments from Craft in the Bay)

Hanging out the laundry connects me to the world.  I tune in to the weather because of the laundry.  Every morning I get up and closely watch the local forecast, checking several days ahead for the breezy conditions most suitable for towels.  
The Piglet was born in Spring, so I would carry a basket of laundry into the garden and peg out the clothes in the mild sunshine and spring breezes, sometimes while carrying a sleeping Piglet in her baby-hod on my tummy.  Sometimes when I go out with my laundry load early in the morning, I remember when I first hung tiny sleepsuits on the clothes-horse along with the Good Fella's shirts and socks.  At first, two sleepsuits fitted comfortably on one pole of the clothes-horse.  I remember the mingling of pride and nostalgia when the sleepsuits became big enough to need hanging one at a time on each pole. 

Laundry (and walking to school) are also key areas for internal eco-political debates.  I thought long and hard about whether to get a tumble-dryer - principally because our towels were so much softer when I could take them to the laundrette to be dried.  (Laundrette tumble-driers are more eco-friendly because their drum is bigger.)  When we moved to an area too posh to have a laundrette, I had to learn new skills of soft towel drying (from my MoL - use Comfort fabric conditioner and give the towels a brisk shake out before hanging them up to dry). 
So far I have managed without a tumble-dryer, even though last winter the washing sometimes froze on the line and had to be carried in under my arm in flat boards for finishing off by a radiator.  
Hanging out the laundry is the most perfect moment of the laundry cycle.  The washing is clean and fresh as you peg it out.  Once dry and collected, it has to be ironed, sorted and put away - at this point it's already on the downwards slope into the dirty washing basket.  
Hanging out the laundry is like taking a deep in-breath before you start the day.  The washing is done at night - two or three loads, depending on what was on telly so how long I stayed up.  Hanging out the laundry happens first thing in the morning.  The air can be chill and fresh, sometimes with that pale gold promising a beautiful day;  sometimes grey and breezy promising strong winds (best conditions for towels).  All around, you are aware of the garden in the different seasons, and birds singing or flying to their nests. 
I love the smell of the wind in cotton sheets dried on a blowy day. 

1 comment:

  1. Summer sunshine dazzles me, glancing off the white sheets on the line.