an ode to line dried laundry

July 11, 2011

My Cape Cod Clothes Line Last Week

Let’s take a moment to talk laundry. For me, a New Englander, nine months of the year it’s pure drudgery. But every summer when the warm sun and soft breeze invite line drying, it becomes less of a chore. In fact, it actually inspires!

Of course the benefits of drying the wash outside are numerous: it saves energy, the clothes feel fresher, smell better and are easier to fold. Sure, it takes longer to hang them on the line, but it’s sooo much more rewarding than throwing them in the dryer. Why? I find it slows me down. It makes me actually experience this menial task, making it less of a chore. Instead of a plastic thingy, I cart my Cape laundry in an antique, cedar basket which squeaks a bit when I carry it. If I have more items than the line can hold, I take out my vintage, wooden, folding rack which looks quite adorable with the kids’ wash on it. In fact, when you pay attention, there’s kind of an art to it. And once you pay attention, you notice all kinds of things.

Like how dynamic laundry on the line is. It reacts to light and air – taking on dramatic back lighting or reflecting the setting sun; fluttering hypnotically in a light breeze or flapping violently in a gale. It dresses itself in dappled shadows from the leaves and branches above or casts playful silhouettes of its own. And of course, it changes with every load – sometimes complementing, sometimes in contrast to the things around it. Some days I have zen whites, others cheery brights, but always it alters the mood in my yard.

It amazes me that some people think that clothes lines are ugly. I have to believe that those who think so are not really seeing the wash on the line. Perhaps they are locked in some idea of perfection – that somehow laundry doesn’t fit with their carefully manicured lawns. (Or maybe their neighbors really do have hideous sheets.) But I like clothes lines. And it turns out I’m not the only one. Just look at how laundry-on-the-line has inspired some of my flickr friends from around the world, and see if you too don’t start to see it in a whole new light.

Breezy by Kristin at Maine Momma, a wonderful photography/life journal that you should absolutely check out.

Clothes Line L’Amélie by Natalie Squire

Traditional Laundry, Malaysia, by Arthur Cha

Laundry, Netherlands, by Bianca de Blok

Havana Laundry by Vampire Black Cat.

Laundry Day by A River Runs Through It

© All Rights Reserved. All above photos used with permission of the artists.

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