I received an email from an old (I use the term advisedly – we are now in our 7th decade) friend, talking about clotheslines. It hadn’t occurred to me that Americans no longer use them much. I have lived in France and England for the last 15 years, where most people hang laundry outside whenever possible. Not because they have to, but because they prefer to dry their things in the sunshine and wind. They don’t even do it to save energy and help the environment, but it is a very green thing to do.
I Had an email from an old friend (I use the word in its true sense, as we are all in our 7th decade) about clotheslines. It hadn’t occurred to me that very few Americans use them anymore. I have lived in England and France for 15 years now, and nearly all of my friends in both countries hang out their clothes, weather permitting. They own both washers and dryers, yet prefer using sunshine to dry their clothes and linens. They don’t do it to conserve energy and thus benefit the environment, but it is a very green thing to do.
And as outmoded as it is, I prefer line-dried linens and clothes, too, especially bed-sheets. Nothing smells cleaner than sunshine on sheets and pillowcases dried outdoors. No chemical substitute comes close to the authentic odor of freshly laundered cotton, especially if it is ironed, too, and stretching out on fresh sheets in a clean nightgown, plumping a soft pillow under my head, I feel safe and cared for, centered in the energy of the sun. I sleep better.
Not that I am always able to line- dry my laundry. Here in England, good weather for drying clothes can be scarce, so when my British husband thought maybe we could do without one, I put my big American foot down. As much as I love line-dried laundry, I hate clothes drying on racks in the house. It’s depressing. It brings back boring rainy days in California with nothing to do, looking out of rain spattered windows at gray skies. In my memory, it is always 4:00 PM, already dusk-like without the sun, with no lights on in the house because it’s too early. Rain in California, and in southern France, is especially depressing because it isn’t supposed to rain there. It’s supposed to be sunny all the time.
Therefore, we have a dryer. Which I use. In fact, we don’t at the moment have a clothesline, last summer having passed with no sunshine to speak of, so it wasn’t an issue. But we will put one up. Just as soon as it stops raining.
I know my attitudes are stuck in the past. When I was in North Carolina visiting my family, I searched out the ironing board to freshen up some clothes. My 4 year old grand-daughter asked, "What’s that, Grandma?" And I don’t iron my own sheets. In France we had a wonderful woman in the village who ironed. She ironed everything, and did a wonderful job. She was a professional who took pride in her work, and wouldn’t allow a wrinkle to defeat her. She was also reliable and finished the job on time almost always, and if she couldn’t, she called you and told you. Then she moved away. Now, want to know who irons the sheets?
Women, prepare to be envious. Men, prepare to feel betrayed. It is the other person who lives in this house with me.