The Right to Hang out the laundry was on the front page of Yahoo News this morning, and those that hang have got a lot of snooty city folks and housing development administrators' "panties in a wad" due to it's so-called unsightliness. I'm a long-time clothesline hanger and have been practicing this method of drying since I was a kid at home. Many "hangers" are finding great savings on their electricity bill and the pleasure that comes from the age-old task of pegging clothes outdoors and breathing in the fragrance of freshly laundered, sun-kissed, wind-whipped sheets, towels and T-shirts. There's nothing in the world like lying down in your comfy bed with that scrumptious fresh air wafting about your head.
When all the buzz today is "green living" I can only imagine that the restrictions on clotheslines will soon be a thing of the past. But it makes me wonder how they might try to regulate the method of hanging out? Will underthings and nighties be restricted to the center lines while towels and sheets hide them between the front and back lines? Will there be a fine issued when the neighbor's undies are blown off the line and into your shrubbery or when Spot the Dog pulls down the blue jeans from Mrs. Jones's line? Perhaps they'll find a way to keep things more eye-appealing by requiring all hung towels to be earth tones to match the house paint or perhaps they'll require sheets hung on Mondays and towels on Tuesdays and no hanging of underthings on the weekends when children are at home. We surely want to keep clotheslines "G" rated. Should there be a ban on hanging out when the wind speed is above 25 mph to avoid stray clothes coming of the line? Surely hanging out will not be allowed to be a free expression of each family, will it? How did they do it back in the Olden Days without ruffling the neighbors' feathers? Or were feathers always ruffled no matter the hang out style?
Thank goodness I live in the country where I can hang out my laundry in total freedom, in any fashion and on any day I like. My main concern about country hanging is dust and dirt, especially when my family members drive through the yard, kicking up gravel and dust which wafts over to the clothesline. Nothing makes me sizzle more than seeing the dirt fly when I've just hung out a load of wet wash on the line. On warm fall days like today, I have to watch for wasps in the pant legs and arms of the clothes. They tend to crawl in when the sun gets low and the air starts cooling so a good shake is in order when collecting the clothes from the line. Other than that, my two neighbors don't mind a bit about my hanging, but I wonder if my style tells any secrets about me? Enjoy the poem below which will give all you hangers something to think about next time you're pinning things to the clothesline.
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 on the line;
You'd see the comp'ny tablecloths
With intricate design.
The line announced a baby's birth
To 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 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 gray,
As neighbors raised their brows, and looked
But clotheslines now are of the past
For dryers make work 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!