by Dawn Thompson
It's July, mid-summer and it's HOT.
I walk into my garage to do laundry and am bowled over by how suffocating the air is in there! I feel guilty running the dryer in such heat. I think of the commercials on TV asking me to "give your appliances the afternoon off".
Growing up, we never had a dryer in the house. My great grandmother lived with us, and she wouldn't have one. She thought dryers were for lazy people and a waste of money, and anyway, she liked how the laundry smelled so fresh hanging out on the line. Besides, it really wasn't necessary to have a dryer in Southern California -- there were always enough sunny days even in the winter to get the laundry done.
Now with 3 boys in my house I am washing at least one load of beach towels, swimsuits and pool towels everyday. So, I decided to put up a clothesline in my backyard for the first time ever.
I went down to the local Kmart and looked for clothesline and clothespins. I wasn't too sure they still made them, but I thought if they did they would surely have them at Kmart. I was pleased to find they did.
I don't have the poles for the line in my yard like I did in my childhood home, so I set my clothesline up in the corner of the yard using the 45 degree angle of the fence to hang my line. When I was finished, I stepped back to admire my work and I was pleased with myself for thinking of it, conserving energy, and doing my part.
What I wasn't prepared for were the feelings and the memories that came flooding back to me as I hung up that first load of laundry.
Being out in the yard, smelling freshly washed towels, and with the sun on my back, I was suddenly in my yard I grew up in -- helping my grandmother hang out the clothes.
She was always barefoot, dressed in a Hawaiian print mumu with an apron tied around her waist, safety pins on her dress front and a rubberband or two around her wrist (just in case someone needed one.) She would have her wicker basket full of clothes at her feet and a few wet items thrown over her shoulder as she hung clothes. Usually
she would be singing a song or talking to the cats in the yard. Or sometimes she'd tell me a story about her childhood or her mother.
If she had a bad day or something was bothering her, I remember she would say, "I sure wish I could sit on my mama's lap for a minute."
All of that came rushing back to me crystal clear, like it
happened yesterday. I could see her, feel her standing there with me.
It has been at least 25 years since I have been in that yard with my grandma. I remember my grandmother often, think of her and miss her, but that first day in my backyard hanging clothes I felt like I had visited with her.
I've never had that feeling going to her graveside or even looking at pictures. Hanging clothes used to feel like a chore. But now, I look forward to it.
I enjoy going out in the yard to hang my laundry and use the time to just take a moment out of my busy day and think about things, or nothing at all -- and, have a little visit with my grandma.
-- Dawn Thompson <nativedawn @ yahoo.com>