For the past couple of months I’ve called every balmy and breezy morning “a good wash day.” Because that’s what it is.
This has been a particularly warm summer and DF and I have used the clothesline to the maximum. If it isn’t laundry we’re hanging out, it’s the bedclothes and pillowcases: They smell so marvelous after a few hours in the air and sun.
I’ll even cop to looking for laundry where there is none, e.g., “Is it time to do a load of towels and bathrobes?” or “Have we washed the comforter lately?” Failing that, I’ll put the bedclothes out for the second day in a row.
My mom would approve. Like us, she hardly ever used the clothes dryer. None of the adult women I knew did. Why add to the electric bill when sun and wind are free?
When my parents split up I became the one who ran the household for my father and brother. I remember hanging up laundry at 6:15 a.m., before the bus came, and hoping that it didn’t rain while I was in school. (If it did, sometimes a neighbor lady would take the laundry down and set the basket inside the mud-room door.)
At one point, someone told my grandmother that our family was “either the cleanest or the dirtiest” one around, because of the frequency with which I did the wash. Since we used a bath towel just once before laundering it, that meant several loads of wash during the week (we didn’t have many towels) plus sheets and clothing on the weekend.
Don’t get me started on the ironing. I did that, too.
On borrowed time
These days I luxuriate in laundry, for several reasons. For starters, I’ve gotten over that use-a-towel-once habit.
Thanks to my dear partner I no longer have to handle all the housework, shopping and cooking in addition to whatever else I need to do. Sometimes he does more than his share and he does it cheerfully and without comment, vs. expecting a ticker-tape parade because he cleaned the sink.
Now I know why men let women pick up the shitload all those years: Because it feels great not to always be thinking things like:
- “What should I be fixing for dinner?”
- “Are we out of milk?”
- “Clean clothes: Do we have any?”
- “Why does the linoleum feel crunchy under my slippers?”
Another reason is that I’m old enough to appreciate slipping into a bed made up with freshly air-dried sheets. At age 16, laundry was just one more chore to complete before the bus arrived or in between fixing dinner and doing my homework. Now that I’m a frugal sybarite, I love the way the scent of summer follows me into my dreams.
That’s the sybaritic part. The frugal factor pertains to lower electric bills and also clothing and linens that last longer vs. ones that get heated and tumbled mechanically.
This time of year is usually rainy, so we’re acutely aware of how lucky we are to have this much sun. Lately I’ve been assuming that each nice day is probably the last. But I’ve been wrong. This, of course, makes each good wash day that much nicer: We’re on borrowed time, summer-wise, and we know it.
Not that the weather has to be warm to hang things outdoors. I’ve seen DF standing in the snow in a djellaba and flip-flops to put the comforter on the line. Winter air smells marvelous, too.