I have a checkered history with clotheslines. In this day and age, a lot of Homeowners' Associations ban them as a "blight" on the pristeen beauty of their little housing developments. Other people couldn't live without them.
When I was growing up, we had a small concrete back yard where my sister and I would play hopscotch and ride tricycles. On wash day, my mother comandeered the yard to hang the laundry. There were about four or five lines that ran from the wall of our flat to the wall of the flat across the yard (where my aunt lived). I remember bringing in the laundry, when I was old enough to reach the clothespins, everything stiff as a board (my mother would iron softness into them) but smelling fresh.
When Walt and I moved into our first house, a rented place in Albany, CA (next door to Berkeley), we had one toddler and I was expected Ned. When Ned was born, we had two in diapers and no dryer. Walt built a clothesline right outside our bedroom window. We also got a dog. Ho Chi Mutt. Mutt delighted in following me around while I pinned clothes on to the clothesline and then before I could get back in the house, he would have torn them all off. I remember on about the third day that we had the damn dog, I called Walt in tears sobbing that we had to take this dog that I had longed for my entire life back to the pound because I simply couldn't handle him.
(I never did handle him, but we ended up getting a dryer to put in the basement because there was no room in the house for one).
So from the time Mutt came into our lives, we had a dryer. Once in awhile I would hang something outside, but I really preferred the soft fluffy feel of clothes just out of the dryer to the stiff, fresh-smelling line-dried clothes.
When we visited Walt’s cousin in Ireland, she had a clothesline. Drying clothes in Ireland is a real art, because you have to know how soon to put them out, gauging how long it is before the next rain comes. If the clothes don’t get all the way dry, then you hang them over chairs, near the heaters, to continue the drying process.
In 2000, Peggy came to visit for 6 weeks. After she’d been here for a couple of days, she said she wanted to rinse out a few things and asked "Where’s your clothesline?" She was amazed when I told her I didn’t have one.
"No clothesline," I responded.
I explained that I do everything in the dryer. She talked about how she preferred to hang clothes on a line, but eventually agreed to toss some things in the dryer. She ended up going out, buying rope and clothespins and stringing a line across our back yard. She was now happy as a clam and the line hung there for about 10 years, until it finally wore out (not, I assure you, from use, though I did use it once in awhile)
When I went to Australia, I got to see Peggy's clothes line, on which she hung everything. It was particularly fun on the day when she washed all the dogs' toys (unlike me, she had dogs who actually played with stuffed animals instead of who had a personal need to tear a stuffed toy apart as quickly as possible. I think I've had toys that may have lasted 10 minutes (if they were very sturdy) with our dogs.
She did not own a dryer, so if I wanted my clothes to be clean and dry, I had to get used to using a clothesline, which I did.
I did get used to hanging clothes and even came to enjoy the fresh-smelling clothes that I took down after they were dry.
However, when I returned to the land of e pluribus unum, I was just as glad to go back to fluffing my clothes in an electronic machine.
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