Let it All Hang Out

September 14, 2018
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I love summer.  Even though we Hoosiers endure a lot of hot and muggy midwestern afternoons, there’s always the evening to take a walk and enjoy the scents of the neighborhood.  I love taking in the smells of burgers on a grill, just mown grass, newly paved blacktop, the air after a good soaking rain, and my favorite-laundry fresh off the clothesline.

During my days growing up on Indy’s beautiful south side, my family’s home contained a huge clothesline that stretched four lines deep from our swing set by the house all the way down to our backyard fence.  My mother, who spent much of my childhood doing laundry along with her many other mom activities, would cart loads of wet clothes to the line every laundry day.  Though we had a dryer, Mom rarely used it when the weather was warm.  She preferred air drying via the energy of Mother Nature.  She claimed our clothes dried just as well outside, especially if there was a nice breeze.  No electricity needed.  Donning her apron with pockets to hold the clothespins, she would pile a basket of clothes straight from the washer, head outside and start pinning. 

During the summer, everything was aired out on that clothesline-shirts, pants, towels, nightgowns, even underwear.  There was no modesty in our backyard when it came to hanging laundry!  We didn’t lose socks to the dryer either, because Mom pinned them up next to each other in pairs never to be separated. 

Helping hang the clothes was a regular allowance earning chore for my brother and me.  My favorite part was when I got to wear the clothespin apron-just like Mom.  Sometimes, the three of us would be sitting in the living room and hear the crack of thunder or the start of a sudden downpour and we’d all rush out side and start grabbing clothes off the line by the armful.  No time for baskets-just get them inside before they got wet again!   But on most days, the wind flapped dry our shorts, tops, and PJ’s; afterwards, Mom would haul the loads back in and fold them all.  Then they were ours for putting away, fresh and clean for the next wearing.

Now, I don’t have a giant clothesline in my yard like my mom did (and still does-this awesome woman has been wielding clothespins for over half a century now).  But I have a smaller version that works for clothes I’d rather line dry.  I figure that every piece of laundry on the clothesline-even if it’s just a few of them-is one NOT going into the dryer and using electricity.  So my daughter’s Girl Scout and fangirl t-shirts, as well as my husband’s Batman apparel, all get their own air time on the line whenever possible.  They all smell nice when they’re done, plus I’ve saved some energy and helped the earth a little bit. 

So if you have bit of space at your place, grab some clothesline at the hardware store and let your laundry all hang out.  Even with autumn temperatures approaching, a crisp fall breeze can blow your skirts, dress shirts and pajama pants dry in no time.  Be good to the earth, save some energy, and don’t forget to pair up your socks.  At the very least you’ll keep them from going missing in the dryer.   

-Melissa Aughe