A Little Bit Western


Hung Out to Dry

Jul 29, 2014

I appreciate everyday modern household conveniences. Things like running water and electricity, and the magic that ensues when they are combined in the form of a washing machine make my life a whole lot simpler. I am happier still that I live on a farmyard with enough water to do the numerous loads of daily wash that come my way. Any time I feel overwhelmed with laundry, I just compare myself to my foremothers who would have loaded up their children (and the dirty laundry they produced) and head down to the creek to beat the stains out on the rocks. Fast forward a few decades and the familiar routine of throwing in dirty items, adding soap, and pressing a couple knobs and buttons doesn’t seem so bad.

When it comes to drying the laundry, however, I’m a little bit Old School. I have a minor obsession with my clothesline. Shortly after moving into our humble home, engineering the perfect clothesline was pretty high on my to-do list. Literally. My husband insisted that any clothesline we installed needed to be high enough to ride a horse freely underneath. Now I’m not certain what past experience or insight he had as to why this was necessary, but it seemed like a critical step to realizing my goal, so I went along with it. We sourced an extra-long piece of metal pipe that we pushed into the ground for one end of the line, and attached the other end directly to the back of the house. Voila! I have a clothesline that the very tallest rider riding the very tallest horse could ride under with much room to spare.

Of course, every clothesline needs a little routine maintenance now and then, which requires some willing bodies who aren’t scared of heights. And a tractor. With a front-end loader. We’ve enlisted help from in-laws, outlaws, neighbours, cowboys and even random passersby, all to keep my beloved clothesline functioning.

There are some definite benefits to hauling alternating loads of wet and dry laundry in and out of one’s house. Nothing beats the fragrance of line-dried laundry or crawling into a bed made up with sheets that smell like the great outdoors. Also, the last time I checked, Saskatchewan is moderately breezy on any given day. This wind is not only plentiful but it’s free and just waiting to suck the moisture out of my clothes. Clotheslines are a great way to pinch pennies, while being quintessentially eco-friendly. Our pioneer ancestors were trendy and didn’t even realize it.

The downside of using a clothesline is that it can be slightly time consuming and, unlike a dryer, you can only leave the dry clothes where they are for so long. Left too long on the line, your clothes might become a popular gathering point for a flock of birds. Left even longer, your dry clothes might get a second rinse from an afternoon storm, require a second washing after getting blown off the line, or get tangled up, requiring your handy front-end loader. The clothes aren’t always soft, especially after those hot, still days, when you can stand your stiff clothing up in the corner after it baked on the line. Also, leaving both your children and your laundry unsupervised for even the briefest period of time may result in chaos. Small, innovative children may retrieve their favourite (damp) clothes, and I once walked in on a discussion that suggested using the clothesline as a zip-line.

So it’s not perfect.

But hanging laundry on the line is still one of the most peaceful things I do in a day. In this busy, crazy, technology-ridden world that we live in, sometimes it’s comforting knowing that I’m doing chores the same way that our mothers, grandmothers and great-grandmothers did. Hopefully they caught a few peaceful moments when they hung the laundry out to dry too.

Please like & share:

  • Enter your email address below to subscribe to 'A Little Bit Western' and receive notifications of new posts by email.


  •  

  •