The other day I heard a news item concerning a dispute among neighbors who were battling over clotheslines. One opinion was that by hanging the wash outside, one saves on electricity, thereby contributing to the health of the environment. The opposition just plain didn’t enjoy the looks of flapping laundry.
I can see both sides.
I’ve hung my share of clothes outside. Raising my children in the pre-Pampers era, I might estimate that I’ve pinned a total of 63,480 diapers to the ropes in backyards of every house we’ve ever lived in. The electric dryer didn’t come into my life until almost a year after the birth of my fourth child.
When I was a young mother with, at one point, three in diapers, my routine revolved around checking reports for compatible weather in order to take advantage of Nature’s dryer. There was nothing that quite lifted my spirits as a “good drying day”: clear skies, low humidity and a brisk breeze. On a day like that one was tempted to wash even the clean clothes. Oh, and they smelled so good.
On the other hand I can recall hauling in frozen Dr. Denton pajamas that would need to be laid over hot-air registers in the floor to thaw out enough to bend over every chair in the house. The worst were days when it was too hot and muggy for clothes to dry at all, inside or out.
I must admit, however, when our circumstances changed enough to permit the purchase of a dryer, I happily joined in the technology of the day. The lovely sight of diapers blowing in the breeze like a corps de ballet gave way to the sight of bone-dry laundry, still warm to the touch, tumbled out of the dryer in 30 minutes, ready for folding.
Which brings me back to the dispute over the aesthetics of clotheslines. There are some homeowners that simply object to having their views displaced by the neighbors’ underwear. Some paid a couple of million bucks or more for fabulous homes in gated communities and they aim to keep out what they perceive as ugliness. And they have a point. They also would rather not have noisy children, barking dogs or revving motorcycles intruding on their peace and quiet. That’s their prerogative; they worked hard to earn the money that buys fabulous views. If they don’t see the beauty of diapers dancing like ballerinas in the wind, that’s their choice.
Fortunately for me I live in the best of all possible worlds: we don’t have any neighbors that we can see from our house. We can let it hang out or keep the views pristine. We do hear the occasional motorcycle, and certain dogs run through our yard every now and then, but that’s just fine with us.
We’re living in times that call for everyone to consider changes that are for the overall good. We turn off the lights, turn down the thermostat, ease up on hot water usage, just like in the good old days.
As for me, I’ll be more conscientious about how I do my laundry these days. From now on, I’ll do my best to let it all hang out.