My mother didn't have a clothes dryer until well after my sister and I had left home, married, and had children of our own. Hanging sheets and pillow cases, towels and clothes, was a joy to her. Nothing smelled as good as sun-dried sheets.
She had a special apron with pockets for the clothespins placed high where she could easily reach them. I remember her with a clothespin held in her mouth, ready to be used even as she pinned a garment to the line. Those were sweet days, innocent in a way that is foreign to most of us now.
My dryer has been put to hard use. When my children were all at home, it and the washing machine chugged away on a daily basis. I appreciate the ease of it, but I miss the sweet scent of the sun clinging to each piece of linen and clothing.
A friend sent me the following poem. When I read it, I smiled. At the same time, a pang settled around my heart as I thought of my mother:
A clothesline was a news forecast
To neighbors passing by,
There were no secrets you could keep
When clothes were hung to dry.
It also was a friendly link
For neighbors always knew
If company had stopped on by
To spend a night or two.
For then you'd see the "fancy sheets"
And towels upon the line;
You'd see the "company table cloths"
With intricate designs.
The line announced a baby's birth
From folks who lived inside -
As brand new infant clothes were hung,
So carefully with pride!
The ages of the children could
So readily be known
By watching how the sizes changed,
You'd know how much they'd grown!
It also told when illness struck,
As extra sheets were hung;
Then nightclothes, and a bathrobe, too,
Haphazardly were strung.
It also said, "Gone on vacation now"
When lines hung limp and bare.
It told, "We're back!" when full lines sagged
With not an inch to spare!
New folks in town were scorned upon
If wash was dingy and gray,
As neighbors carefully raised their brows,
And looked the other way .. .
But clotheslines now are of the past,
For dryers make work much less.
Now what goes on inside a home
Is anybody's guess!
I really miss that way of life.
It was a friendly sign
When neighbors knew each other best
By what hung on the line.
So, for today, I am grateful for clotheslines ... and for memories of my mother.