When we moved to this house in 2002 one of the things I liked about it was that it came with two clotheslines attached to it, stretching from the back porches (first and second floors) to a very tall maple tree in the backyard. I'm not someone who uses a clothesline because I think it's environmentally correct, though I'm sure it is. I'm someone who likes a clothesline because of two things: one, sometimes I am seized by fits of cheapness and don't want to pay for the electricity to run the dryer; and two (much more important to me, really), I own things that get laundered regularly that cannot be put in the dryer. Namely, I own a lot of old linens and tablecloths and these things would suffer horrible indignities if tumble-dried. What they need is a clothesline. A drying rack will do for smaller things like tea towels or handkerchiefs or pillowcases, but when we're talking hand-embroidered sheets and and tablecloths, what you want is a long, long clothesline you can spread the fabric across just so, so that you can then hear the fabric snapping neatly in the breeze. No wrinkles. Nice. Ideally, all of these articles are spread artfully down the line, a little of this, a little of that.
Some weeks ago we realized that the maple tree behind our house was rotting and a hazard -- not in an immediate sense, probably, but we were alarmed sufficiently that we called an arborist and arranged to have the thing hacked down. I am now without a clothesline. My husband claims to feel bad for me, but I know he doesn't; he hated my clotheslines. (I hadn't installed them, mind you, but of all the residents in this house, I was the only one who used the lines, so they're "mine.") I am told that some day, when we get a new fence, we'll have a post installed that's tall enough that I'll be able to have my clotheslines again.
I'm not holding my breath.
In the meantime, I'm looking out the window and thinking about how I need to do laundry, and how, if I had my clotheslines, it would be a perfect day for it: it's sunny, the air is crisp, and there's a nice breeze going -- just enough to make my pretty tea towels and tablecloths flap around, but not so much to knock them off the lines.
I know some people are offended by the sight of clotheslines, and I suppose I could understand it if I were hanging out the family's unmentionables, but -- is anyone offended by the sight of tea towels and tablecloths waving in the breeze? The occasional handkerchief that's embroidered with violets or "Edna"? I just can't imagine it. The linens are so pretty to look at on the clothesline. Walking around the neighborhood this morning I saw other people's things on their clotheslines -- not vintage linens, either, just t-shirts and jeans and towels. It made me jealous. I miss my clotheslines.