Though I spend much of my time with my head in the weeds and hands in the soil, there are many other passive outdoor pleasures that have been forgotten. Early last week we had blistering heat in the Northeast with temperatures in the 80s and a constant dry wind. This weather called me to hang out our laundry, which we often start to do later in the year. This was not the first time this year we hung our cloths outside as mid-March was toasty. But today seemed different with the emerging leaves on the trees more pronounced than a month ago. Spring, and my garments, was in the air.
As I took the laundry outside the winds were whipping about making it more difficult to attach them to the line. A wet shirt slapped me as I stretched its bottom hem along the line while straightening its arms. The damp smell of the detergent was a reminder of my task as I wheeled the line toward the fence and crabapple tree. My jeans were a wet ball that had to be shaken out so they would hang flattened against the wind. Socks were put on a basket to stay in the sun.
The heat on my back contrasted with the coolness being blown toward me from the cloths. I needed only two clothesline spreaders so the laundry wouldn’t drop and touch the grass and emerging lilies. As I stood back and looked at the line, I wondered how many of my neighbors put their clothes out to dry. When I was a child, someone was always in trouble at my house or others when an errant kickball or whiffle ball caused a run into a set of drying garments. The clothesline was always out of bounds.
An elderly neighbor once told my wife that he loved the fact that she hung our laundry out. Particularly the sheets. “It reminds me of my mother when she used to put the laundry out to dry.” I have the same memory.