Wednesday, March 3, 2010

It all comes out in the wash...part 2

As I hung out my first load today, the playschool song, “wet washing hanging on the line, drying very quickly when the weather’s fine,” came into my head and it reminds me that not all the days of my childhood were sunny. There were weeks each year, often around Easter and before Christmas when it seemed to rain for weeks and our covered deck would became swamped in a tangle of damp, manky washing that my mum would refuse to put in the dryer. It would be so easy to paint her as an early environmentalist when it was much more like single mum with a watchful eye on the electricity bill. I got to my mid twenties without really understanding how to get the best out if your dryer. Then I moved mountainside and my love-hate relationship with the dryer began. There’s such satisfaction in getting your load on the line, the pleasure in bringing it down and the knowledge that just for today, you are the victor in your own personal climatic challenge. But when the weather rains on my parade, I’ll admit, I get shirty very quickly. If you can catch it just as the smell in the air begins to change, adrenalin will make your fingers fly and your load may survive. Vaguely damp washing can be saved by some quality (note: quality, not quantity) time in the dryer, though this is not optimal as it just smacks of double handling and I’m a do it once, do it properly kind of girl. But if you miss the window completely and your load is wetter than when it came out of the machine, you’re back to square one and you may as well have stayed in bed with your book.

Carbon footprints and climate change aside, it seems to me that the humble washing line is in retreat. People are so quick to rip out the ugly, rather than see that the beauty behind becomes amplified in response. Of course, I understand that increased density in housing means that space is at a premium and not everyone has room to swing a cat, let alone off a Hills Hoist. But that shouldn’t justify rejecting line drying; even the smallest yards can cope with a retractable wall mounted set-up. When a sense of environmental responsibility pervades everyday life, the Hills Hoist has never been more important. Whilst the perennial sore thumb for some and the most delightful juxtaposition for others, Lance Hill’s Rotary Hoist represents a unique contribution to the fabric of our communities. When we stay at a friend’s, we expect to do so on clean sheets. When our visit ends, we strip the bed and offer to put on a load. If I get run over by a bus, I do want to be wearing clean knickers. Just as we teach our children to brush their teeth and wash their hands before they eat, the very act of washing, folding* and wearing clean clothes is the equivalent of a box of Roses chocolates, it says that you care.** And the unexpected upside is that reaching up to peg is great for your bingo wings.

*For the record, I hate folding and don’t get me started on ironing. Not all domestic arts are created equal and this is meant to be a gardening blog...but c’est la vie, I love any excuse to say, “but I digress.”

**That I have finally come to this understanding proves that I’m a grown up now and I shudder at the thought of my twenty something self, wearing the same jeans and sleeping in the same bed linen for weeks, sometimes months on end. I wish I could tack “just jokes” onto the end of that sentence, but every word is alas, true and I still believe that jeans do get softer the dirtier they’s really just a question of resource management. You have to space it out and wear other clothes in between, this constitutes airing the offending denim without compromising the leg-feel.

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