It’s my birthday and a day after the summer solstice, the longest day marking a warm, if not very humid, start to summer in Washington Crossing, Pennsylvania.
In efforts to maintain a girlish figure on this mature body, I do a daily walk around the neighborhood–a condo and carriage home complex–for 37 minutes. (This does nothing to keep my weight down, but does keep HDLs up and produces a positive attitude adjustment for the day.) The neighborhood is incredibly clean and tidy, with manicured lawns and landscapes that nobody living inside the buildings needs to take care of. There’s a paved walkway that goes for miles behind all the houses, so you see everybody’s picture-book backyards during your jog. Mostly everybody put improvements into their backyards with trees, flowers, decks, and stone patios, visible to and enjoyed only by passers-by like me interested only in fighting the fat. I have never observed anyone out on their decks and patios, enjoying them themselves. Husband, Roger, and I are among the few who opted for no exterior improvements. So, nobody goes by our place and says, “Oh, what a nice yard.” I’d rather not know what is said about ours. And only last week did we finally get rid of the 16-year-old gas grill that embellished our backyard for the last seven years. It was not pretty. But nobody ever said anything, as visually offensive as it was.
Nowhere in any of the backyards is a clothesline. I’m used to having a clothesline to dry clothes outdoors for that FRESH, CLEAN SMELL imparted by nature to line-dried laundry. I don’t know about you, but my undies get ruined in the dryer. My last clothesline was in Cranbury, New Jersey, a house I moved out of in 1993 and the last personal observance of backyard clotheslines. The next house, also in New Jersey, had no clothesline but a wonderfully warm furnace room (Roger would not stand for a clothesline either) which I set up with a drying rack. Clothes dried there in half a day if you ignored the specks of soot. Here in humid Washington Crossing, over the river and across the woods from New Jersey, clothes in the dryer dry in half an hour and half a size smaller, and on the drying racks in a week or so. But Roger is happy and the neighbors are not throwing us out. I’m not happy because my clothes are shrinking, or I’m getting larger. Or both.
I don’t know why backyard clothesline drying is so pooh poohed. It’s so very NATURAL, green, environmentally conscious, and oh so politically correct. No technology needed; no electricity or hydrocarbon fuels required; delivers a superior drying result. In this day and age of returning to basics, folks are willing to give up their cars, ride bicycles or walk to work, throw out their incandescent light bulbs, stop breathing for a minute once a week to reduce carbon footprint, bring their own bags to the supermarket, separate garbage, buy organic, ban trans fats, plant a tree, open the windows, shut the A.C., BUT NOT PUT UP A CLOTHESLINE. Where are the environmentalists when you need them? And I too have kowtowed to that movement by moving my clothesline inside, actually more for fear of social backlash and a desire to stay married. I would put up a clothesline in a New York minute if I knew I wouldn’t be thrown out of the complex or get a nasty letter from the HOA. Or Roger leaving me for a better laundress.
I’m thinking of a designer clothesline for my backyard, like the cell phone towers in Arizona disguised as palm trees. It would be the color magenta and resemble a weeping red bud tree in Spring bloom. In a month or so, I’ll let you know how well my clothes dried and whether I’m still living here.
Love to you all, from where General George crossed the Delaware and left the Hessians out to dry.