It’s a really small gesture, I know: finally getting an outdoor clothesline so I can abandon my electric dryer. I should have done it years ago; I have plenty of space in the yard, and it’s not as though it’s news that we should be looking for every way possible to reduce our gigantic carbon footprints.
I have no excuse for why it took me so long, but finally last month I went online and ordered one of those umbrella-type clotheslines, the kind with a tall pole in the middle and lines strung around it in a square. I had to mix and pour concrete for the first time (something the average six-year-old could do, but who knew?), and used a level to get it straight in its hole. I waited patiently for the required setting time, and then waited again for the rain to stop, and ever since then — for the last thirty loads of laundry or so — I have been hauling the wet clothes out to my line and pinning them up, one shirt or sheet or pair of socks at a time.
What I anticipated in making this shift was a mix of one part relief (finding another thing to do to cut energy consumption), one part hassle, half a cup of stress because of the time it takes to pin up all the clothes and take them down again, and a scant teaspoon of self-righteousness.
What I have found instead is pure pleasure. I had forgotten how wonderful clothes smell when they’ve been dried by the wind and sun. I had not realized how meditative each of those ten or fifteen minute spans could be when I stand there, feeling the sun on my face and being saturated by birdsong as I offer the clothes to the breezes or receive them back. I find myself filled with new awareness and therefore gratitude for this partnership — the natural energies of the earth’s air and heat moving through the mundane offering of my family’s clothing. It is swift, functional, easy; it is also grace and blessing.
A friend sent me this poem in response to my laundry epiphany. I guess I’m not the only one who finds God in the clothesline…