Sunday, July 25, 2010


photo from greenbaby

I began this blog by just flinging one post out into what seemed to be infinity. It was a cold November day, and now during this never-ending hot spell, that seems eons ago. Indeed, this is post Number Four Hundred Ninety Five, and sometime this week, if the Good Lord's willin' and the creek don't rise---we'll hit #500.

It feels as if I should SAY something. I mean really SAY something---about the South mostly, but something worthwhile---not just little frivols about dessert and bubbles and where-we-went-for-lunch.

If there's anything I HAVEN'T covered, and anybody has a question (things like grits and cousins-twice-removed and barbecue sauce have been covered, I think, but I'll take a stab at any Southern Subject within reason). EVEN THE HEAT, which is even worse-than-here, and I so feel for the folks sweltering under that Southern Sun.

Summer Heat---it's a a Fact of Life in our Hemisphere, and its toll on pore and patience has been a bell-mark of Life As I Know It. Right now, it weights down the days with its 85-before-breakfast here, whereas the overbearing heat and humidity of the South of my raising has already wilted every being---collar, coif and mood, before they can get the door slammed to keep in the cool.

It’s good for the crops, if there’s rain; it’s good for swimming and other cooling activities, it’s good for drying laundry. The sight of fresh-washed clothes strung on a line, the colors and the whites bright in the sun---that’s a seldom-sight these days, and I wish I HAD a clothesline. I happen to live near two ladies-who-do, so my eye-feast of the loops and swells of the breeze-stirred clean fabric is often waiting, just over the fence. And one of them has made me free to come and hang my own spreads and blankets and sheets upon her line, whenever I like.

The feel of the house is altered and uplifted when a great armful of fluffy, wind-dried laundry is brought down the stairs---concentrated sunshine and breeze-waft just settle into those fibers and lend a restful air to the whole place. Nestling your face on a smooth, wind-blown pillowslip brings sweet dreams of meadow-walks, and waking in the night to the well-remembered scent of childhood is a momentary journey to another time and place.

The flap of the white-white expanse as you fling the sheets upward like boat-sails, smoothing them on the bed, settling them into the corners, gives an age-old bit of grace to the week, and opening the linen closet to that burst of captured memory-scent brings memories of visits to Mammaw's house, where everything was always the same---comfortable and welcoming.

When my children were babies, we didn’t have a dryer for several years. I hung diapers and tiny shirts and socks every day of the week, hoping for sunshine, and on rainy days, it was time to string the stout cord to the loops in the top corners of the “spare room” for a day-long attempt at drying. In Winter, the room was used more often than the outdoor line, with a little gas heater providing the warmth for getting all those double-hung diapers and thick, fleecy footie-jammies ready for a comfy night’s sleep.

It was work, bending and looping and shaking the wrinkles out of those wet-heavy clumps of cloth in the basket, getting the pins on straight, evening up the rows, lifting that hand-smoothed pole to elevate the lax lines when all had been pinned and secured.

Just writing this, I can smell the unforgettable freshness of those bright-white baby-clothes, washed in Ivory Snow, dried in the breeze. Picking up and nestling a little one smelling of clean clothes and that unmistakable baby scent all their own, that aura of Johnson’s shampoo and warm cotton and the fresh-milk smell of baby-necks---the memory has me smiling right now.

Does ANYONE still have a clothesline any more? Do you miss them?

And Welcome, Chris L.---Number Forty-Nine on the Followers list. So glad you could join us!


Cape Coop said...

We are saving up for a clothesline for the Coop. Kiddle wants a tree style. In the meantime we use a wooden rack in the back room, so no large items get such lucky treatment.

Marlene said...

I have an umbrella type clothesline hubby "planted" in a bucket of concrete, put wheels on it, and I can roll it in and out of our poolscreen room, and I never have to go outside to hang my laundry. We did this last summer when the electric bills soared. I do love that smell of sunshine too, and lots of happy memories helping my mother all those years ago. I use it every day!

Southern Lady said...

I grew up helping my mama hang clothes on our clotheslines, and your post brought back many fond memories of that time, Rachel. There's no way that freshness can be captured in a bottle or dryer sheet.

I've always wanted to do a photo shoot of clotheslines, but, sadly, haven't seen but a few, and they weren't in places I could go to photograph them.

I'm looking forward to your 500th post. That's quite a milestone.

Tonja said...

Love the clotheslines! We had one when I was a girl. Nothing smells as good as sheets fresh from the line!

Jeanne said...

Hello Rachel, I love the talk of clotheslines and fresh smells of line dried clothes. I too hung many diapers on the line for five children. Well correction...4 children. When the fifth one came along I insisted on a dryer. I kept telling my hubby I wanted a dryer. His answer was always, OK! It was close to the baby's due date and 'again' I asked for a dryer. He said, "OK." Again!!! I finally looked him in the eye and said, "NOW." I had my new dryer the next day. HA!
Yes, I sometimes miss having a clothesline. However, hanging clothes or sheets etc. is not a good idea on a mountainside. HA!

Congratulations on reaching 500 posts soon. Just write whatever you like and it will be awesome as always.

Hugs, Jeanne

sparrowgrass said...

I have a clothesline, but I must make the guilty admission that I don't use it as often as I should. If I was good woman, I would hang my clothes before work, and come home at noon to take them down. But. . . I do use it when I have time, and most every weekend will see the sheets out there, and the dog bedding, and the slip cover off the dogs' couch.

And I always, always love that first sunny spring day, sometimes even with snow on the ground, when I can hang out the sheets, blankets, quilts and pillows. Nothing in world matches sundried bedding for a good night's sleep.

Kouign Aman said...

I love my clothesline. My husband thought I was nuts the first year I rigged it for the warm months, but by golly, there's sun and a breeze. I dont need to heat the house or burn the electricity, and its so easy to hang sheets and towels, and all the (then) tiny little clothes. Now its mostly sheets and towels and I still love it.

Kim Shook said...

I am the lone clothesline hater. My grandmother didn't have a dryer until I was in college and even with a gallon of Downy, the sheets and clothes were stiff and rough. Give me a load of sweet smelling, soft, warm fresh-from-the-dryer clothes anytime.