Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Hanging clothes

I have a very nostalgic, perhaps even romantic view of clotheslines. My mother didn't own a dryer when I was growing up, so the clothes were always out on the line, just as they were in all our neighbors' yards. I love the notion of women talking as they peg out the sheets and tee shirts and dungarees. I, however, am in the country, with no neighbor to be seen, so I hang my clothes in total quiet. I love the activity. I love the "Zen" quality of being right there, in that moment, looking at the colors, feeling the fabric, thinking about the person who wears those clothes.

I don't "have" to hang my clothes. I can pick and choose which items I want to hang, and put other ones in the dryer. I don't hang them out in the winter, though I have an indoor rack for the pants and wool socks.

I have a couple little books about clotheslines:

And I have a book a dear friend gave me:

The last one is filled with words of wisdom about slowing down our lives and really paying attention. "The way to slow down in a hectic world is not to find ever more ways of saving time, but to look for ways to spend it." I love that. Hanging clothes is to me a wonderful way to "spend it." I can't do anything else at the same time except look about me at the birds, the sky, the trees. It is one of the most peaceful things I do, and I always feel refreshed when I finish.

I've had a scheme in my head for years to put together a photographic series of people's clotheslines. I'd like to drive around and ask if I might take a picture of their lines, and somehow put them altogether. I've taken a few photos of my own clotheslines in recent years. I've had a few different kinds of lines, and have finally settled on the very kind my mother used, the "umbrella" type, with a cement base the pole sits in. It doesn't blow down in the strong winds we get up here on this hill. It is right outside the kitchen door, making it easy to run out and get the clothes if it should begin to rain.


  1. You've hit the nail on the head, Nan. There is much satisfaction to be gained from hanging the clothes in some kind of orderly, pleasing way, and if you can do it outside and have them smell fresh in a way you can't replicate in the house, then so much the better. I am always conscious, when I'm pegging everything out, whether it looks right - even if I'm the only one to see it!

  2. I love this post!! Great pics (many of which I've already seen) and a nice assortment of books. ;) Won't be too much longer before you can start hanging your jeans out again!

  3. Thanks for all these great clotheline pictures. The sight of hanging clothes always warms my heart. I am sure this comes from watching my mother and my grandmother hanging out the clothes. But I love the sight of clothes on the line, no matter where, no matter whose. There are those who think a clothesline is declasse or unseemly or too unsophisticated. But I always find them a happy sign of life.

  4. Wow, Linda, I can't believe you found this old post. It is one of my favorites, actually. I agree with each word of your comment. Thanks so much.

  5. Love this Nan! (Hope you get notification of comments on old posts.) I really appreciate when you put in a link to them, since as a relatively new reader there are a lot of your beautiful posts that I haven't read. Thanks again.

  6. Yes, Sallie. Because I moderate all my comments, I always get notice when there are new comments on any postings at all. Thank you for your nice, nice words. You are always so kind.


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