(looks innocent enough, doesn't it?)
It's turning warmer now (86* today!) since I flipped the calendar page to June. That means it's clothesline season once again and nearly all the family laundry goes to the clothesline for drying. I like fresh, line-dried clothes -- crisp, mostly unwrinkled, fresh-smelling, sun-kissed. And the towels are crisp and rough which makes for a nice luffa-style rubdown out of the shower. Some people like their towels soft, but I like mine best when they are line-dried and scratchy. How do you take your towels? (By the way, I want to try to grow some luffa this summer in the garden.)
Back when my mother-in-law, Hazel, lived next door, we shared our laundry tips and techniques with each other. She told me that the best sort of day for line-drying was when a "friendly breeze" was blowing. I knew exactly what she meant. You want a breeze, but not a strong wind or a gale --just a light breeze that will gently waft the wet laundry, snapping out the wrinkles, making a relatively fast drying time, but not beating up the clothes. The problem is when you live on the prairie, you most often get a harsh, whipping wind rather than a friendly breeze and so you must take what you get or only wash on "nice days." The past few days we've had strong winds, to say the least, yet it hasn't stopped me from hanging out the clothes. I do regret hanging out the sheets yesterday, but I did it anyway. Here's the 27 second video to prove it.
Some people go to great lengths to get that fresh, outdoor-dried scent on their sheets and pillowcases, and I am one of them. Do you hear the "ding donging" in the background? That's my iron wind chime. A takes a pretty stiff breeze to get it clanging. The hardest part about drying the sheets yesterday was taking them off the line.
One thing my mother-in-law taught me was to hang laundered jeans out on pants stretchers. Have you ever seen these? They are made of a light gauge metal that is in the shape of a pants leg -- wider at the top and narrowing toward the bottom.. They are expandable so you can stretch the denim out and get a perfect crease down the center of your jeans or trousers without ironing. A crease is something lots of cowboys like. I used them for many years and then my kids turned into teenagers and told me that they wanted no more of creases down the centers of their jeans and traded in their Wranglers for baggy jeans so that ended that chore. Now the jeans hang free by their waistbands, legs flapping in the breeze. No more stiff-legged jeans fighting the wind.
When the kids were littles, I hung out all the diapers and plastic pants on the clothesline. I think I washed diapers every other day, especially when we had two children in diapers at a time, which was every year except the year our firstborn was the only baby in the house and the year our 5th child was 2 or 3 years old. We had a new baby every two years so I always had two children in diapers for about 10 years or so. I really did like hanging out the diapers all in a row and letting the sun bleach them bright and white. I suppose they were not as soft as diapers dried in the dryer, much like the luffa towels, but they did what they were designed to do.
Did you ever make tents underneath the clothesline? We did, and so did our kids. We hung blankets over the clothesline so that two or three of the wires were used. That made the tent wide and it had a nice roof. You had to use quite a few clothespins to keep the blankets from pulling and sliding. Sometimes we took our naps under the clothesline tent and played house outdoors all afternoon. We also made tents with blankets over the picnic table and camped out in the backyard in them at night, everybody snugly tucked into their sleeping bags with flashlights just in case we got scared and had to go into the house in the middle of the night.
Some of my favorite things about hanging out the clothes.....
The sound of birds singing
The friendly breezes
Seeing my daily work all in rows (there's a sense of seeing your accomplishments)
Carrying a baby in a basket of dry clothes
Saving money on electricity
Mostly no wrinkles
If I missed a stain, it's usually not set
It's fun to run through clothes or lay underneath the clothesline
What about you? Any favorite clothesline memories to share?