The heating element on our dryer went out last month. We thought about getting a new dryer. I had a busy week. Maybe we’d buy one on the weekend. In the meantime, we had clothes to dry!
Jim discovered that his dried just fine in the dryer, even if the heat didn’t come on.
And I bought a clothesline and clothespins for mine. I strung the clothesline criss-cross along the shade structures we put in when we first moved here. For several years, until the acacia, redbud, desert willow, and mesquite trees grew taller, we strung shade cloth on the structures, and it kept the garden cooler during the hot pre-monsoon months. Now, with the shade from the mature trees, we don’t need the covers any more, but the structure serves as a trellis for the cross-vines, morning glories, and midnight owl climbing rose.
And now the shade structure holds my clothesline, too!
I approached the drying of clothes on the line as a practicality–it would get us through until we bought the new dryer. I hadn’t counted on the joy that it brings.
For one thing, it gets me outside in the garden during the sunny time of day, when it’s tempting to stay inside. Hanging clothes provides an ideal mindfulness activity–there’s a bit of an art to it, spacing the clothing and the clothespins. It offers a time for gratitude: for the sun, for the garden, for the clothesline and the kind man at Ace Hardware who sold it to me, for the people who work in the factory that made the clothesline, for those who harvested the cotton, for those who grew the cotton, and for the sun, again, for helping the cotton grow. And gratitude for water. And food. And that I have clothes, and a clothesline, and a body, and a home, and a garden.
So much gratitude!
The clothes are stiff when I take them off the line. Once, a friend told me how much she loved drying her clothes on the line. “But aren’t they stiff when they dry on the line?” I asked her.
“They are!” she replied. “And then they soften up as I wear them! And they smell like sunshine!”
I’ve discovered that she’s right! When I put on my shirt and pants to head into the office, they’re paper-stiff and they smell like the sun, and I feel pressed and sharp and ready to go. And through the day, while I complete my projects, the clothes soften and relax, so that when I come home, I’m soft, relaxed, and ready for a quiet evening of warmth with Jim.
I thought I’d write about kitchen towels, for they are one of my favorite things, and that’s what’s hanging on the line in the featured photo. But I will write about kitchen towels another day. And maybe, I will also write about how hanging clothes on the line brings me back in touch with a slower pace, shifting my rhythms towards the diurnal. It’s healthy to do things that connect us up with nature–I even go to sleep earlier when I dry my clothes on the line because I’m not waiting for the load to finish before I head to bed!