Clothesline made her feel closer to nature

Published 1:05 am Saturday, October 22, 2016

I miss my clothesline. I am referring to a real clothesline—one that accommodates a couple of washer load of clothes. I do have a short one strung from a post to a tree in my back yard. It only holds bathmats and small items.

One pleasant morning as I hung up three or four of those items, I thought about how much I once enjoyed hanging out our big family wash. Then I considered it a joyful household task. Sometimes the back yard was quiet as I moved along pinning this and that on the lines. Other days the near-by woods rang with birdsong and chirping insects.

I just felt content and in touch with nature. Often when I had filled the lines, I stood on the step at the back door and looked out at what I had accomplished. I loved watching sheets fanned by the wind or hanging there still as night. It was such a pleasure to bring the clothes inside with the sweet scent of the out of doors filling the room.

Come to think of it, I have known a lot of clotheslines through the years. When our son was an infant, his daddy was stationed in Alaska and he and I stayed home with my parents. My mother and I hung diapers on a plastic line strung across her kitchen during bad weather.

After my husband’s return, he was assigned to Fort Jackson, S.C., where we had temperature similar to that of south Alabama, often in the high 90s. The diapers and cotton baby clothes I hung on the first row of line dried by the time I reached the fifth row and paused several times to chase our toddler who was determined to learn to climb the steps to our back stoop.

We moved on post during my husband’s years there and my clotheslines were in full view of a busy street. I never did overcome my embarrassment in hanging my lingerie out on display where GIs and others rode by. I often placed them between a row of sheets and towels so they were not so obvious.

Clotheslines were furnished behind the dependent quarters where we lived in Bamberg, Germany. There was so much coal dust in the air that it clung to our clothes, so I hung them in the basement drying room most of the time.

We bought a mobile home on returning to the states, so I shared a clothesline with others in the park. It took a bit of doing to get out early enough to snag the choice lines before some my neighbors grabbed them.

It was a real treat when we bought our first house, except that it had an umbrella type clothesline. It seemed like almost every time I hung out clothes the wind blew, slapping my face with wet sheets and towels.

Although I do miss sweet-smelling linens from an out-door clothesline, these days I am thankful for a dryer and fabric softener.



Nina Keenam is retired from the newspaper business. Her column appears on Saturdays.