Tuesday, March 1, 2022

Hung Out to Dry

 painting by John Sloan 

Hung Out to Dry

“There is nothing like the smell of crisp linen right off

the line.”--Shelby Lynn.

Old fashioned

clothes lines

conjure fond memories.

I remember my mother

standing by the clothes lines

in our back yard,

willing to be designated

as a housewife,

holding her wicker basket

of wet sheets and such,

a red farmer’s handkerchief

tied over her hair, wearing 

yellow pedal-pushers

and a floral print sleeveless blouse,

large red roses on a black background, 

with a woven satchel full

of wooden clothes pins

tied around her thin waist,

shaking the moisture

out of every garment,

before pinning it on a rope line.

Later she used colorful

plastic rope lines.

Her favorite laundry days

were those with sunny skies,

but with a brisk breeze.

In the 60’s, when

she got an electric dryer,

she still preferred hanging

them outside to dry.

“I like the way they smell,

so natural, no chemicals,

no perfumes.”

I do not see many clothes lines

in back yards any more,

just spinning electric meters,

and long lines at laundromats.

I do enjoy seeing photos

of bright colored garments

hanging on droopy lines

in crowded European cities;

and I wonder how many of them

have electric dryers

in their apartments? 

Glenn Buttkus

Posted over at d'Verse Poet's Pub


brudberg said...

We don't use the dryer a lot... but our clotheslines are inside in the laundry room. I felt inspired to get some clotheslines outside.

Merril D. Smith said...

I like how this painting sent you down memory lane.
Even when I was little we had a clothes dryer. I think my mom was happy not to have to hang clothes up on a line anymore.

Sanaa Rizvi said...

We chose the same painting!💝 This is gorgeously woven .. with a hint of nostalgia and awe as you take us down memory lane. I especially relate to; "In the 60’s, when she got an electric dryer, she still preferred hanging them outside to dry." Sigh. Here in Karachi, there are very few people who are in possession of an electric dryer .. it's not common here. So I, along with many others, still hang laundry outside to dry!💝

Anna said...

Glenn, we often lose much in the relentless push of productivity, forgetting the joy to be gained in repeating mundane gestures that evoke memory and sensory perception. We are looking for a way to slow down and connect and forget that it doesn't always involve exotic locations, majestic nature, or adventure but simple domesticity, approached with an air of reverence.

rogblog666 said...

i stll do hang my laundry outside when the weather lets me. nothing like the feel next to the skin.

Helen said...

Glenn, I love you wrote about your mother hanging clothes outdoors in the breeze to dry. I also have sweet memories of helping hang laundry .. when I grew old enough to reach the lines. Until, that is, I turned into a teenager and put up a bit of a fuss. Still helping.

JadeLi said...

Glenn, I don't think you have written very often about your mom. I was happy to read about her and the vividly remembered way she was dressed and went about her housewifely chore. It makes me think of my grandma and mom hanging clothes out. They were good teachers as I've continued the practice. And yes, I have a dryer but it is used only sparingly except in winter.

Beautiful and pleasant remembrances.

Kerfe said...

I used to help my mother hang out the wash...I loved the smell of it. Your words bring it all back.
You still see lines hung across fire escapes in the city. Although I'm not sure what the wash ends up smelling like!

Gillena Cox said...

Vintage washing day. A lovely lookback Glen.

Happy you dropped by my blog

Much love...

robkistner said...

This put tears in my eyes Glenn, because these are the memories I wish I had my friend. So much tension until dad got home. As a child, I saw wet laundry slung over age-stained tight-braid rope lines, by a certified paranoid schizophrenic old lady, cursing at the neighbors, often at the top of her voice, while my mom sat sullenly in the house. When dad finally did get home from work, he would quietly go into the backyard, straighten the tangle to a neat hang. I would come down out of the garage attic where I hid many days, unless I had fled to one of my friend’s homes in the neighborhood. I would hug dad’s strong leg while he went about the task. When I got older I would help. Finally there was a dryer.

paeansunplugged said...

Oh, we have clotheslines outside mostly! Very few use dryers here.
What wonderful memories.

Jane Dougherty said...

When the economies of the western block collapse we'll see those washing lines coming back, along with wearing jumpers indoors in winter and adopting a more sustainable diet.

Sunra Rainz said...

A lovely reminiscence, and a great social commentary on the manmade nature of our times. I agree with your mother! The sight and smell of fresh laundry on the line has something so uplifting and hopeful about it :-)

Ingrid said...

In Spain, I always dried outside! Here in the UK, it isn't often an option...I do wonder what people did here before the advent of the tumble dryer?

lynn__ said...

This brings delightful memories of my childhood's sunny back yard and mom hanging the wash, which she soon taught me to do! Thanks, Glenn, for the lovely details you painted.

forestbather said...

Proud to be a housewife, making her stand, determined to continue the tradition facing disruption...a woman wiser than she knows, and knew a wonderful woman, proud to be...

purplepeninportland.com said...

I love the details in your memories of your mother. I remember clothes
lines very well. And yes, clothes do smell better fresh off the line.