Saturday, September 6, 2008

Hanna Report

We were brushed by the extreme edges of Hurricane Hanna -- 0.7 inches worth of rain as opposed to the 10.5 inches we ultimately got from Fay. It's sunny and breezy at the moment. A good day to hang the laundry out on the line -- did I say I'd gone "green?" Well, actually, it's a return to "green." I was "green" when it was called "can't afford a dryer." I thought I'd see if I could make a small dent in the ever rising hot summer weather energy bill. That, and I dearly love the way sheets and pillowcases smell when they've been solar dried. As far as I'm concerned, Heaven will smell like that.

I think I'm probably the only one in the neighborhood who actually has a clothesline. We put a deluxe three-liner up when we moved here more than thirty years ago, but as a result of juggling two careers and boy child, it was eventually relegated to drying emergencies and big things that wouldn't fit into the clothes dryer.

I never wanted to get rid of it, though, despite of the questionable esthetics of having two welded-iron T-poles strung with green plastic-coated wires in the back yard. I'm glad I kept it, and so far, so good with the logistics of using it this time around. I've managed to get the wash in ahead of several thunderstorms, and I've only miscalculated whether the humidity was too extreme for the clothes to get completely dry once or twice.

More importantly, I haven't been stung by marauding yellow jackets or tired bees who find the clothespins a handy perch -- as yet. (Knock on wood.) I know not to leave the clothespin bag on the line while the clothes are drying, lest there be some critter with a stinger inside it when I go back to take the clothes in -- folding each piece and putting it into the clothes basket as I go, of course.

Leaving the basket in the grass for the duration of the drying process also invites trouble, in the form of ticks, ants, and/or spiders hitching a ride and finding their way into the house or on your person. There's also the possibility of a snake, but so far the one I know about has confined itself to the iris bed -- I showed you the iris bed. Mosquitoes are another matter entirely. I'm clearly a main course item on the mosquito menu -- enough so to make me wonder why that crisp, clean, dried outdoors smell can't be duplicated in a spray. Either it can't be done -- the ones called "Clean Laundry" aren't even close -- or the scent-maker person has never smelled cotton fabrics dried in sunshine and wind.

But there are other perks besides that wonderful smell.

I like being outside in the early morning dew hanging out the clothes. It's a time for reflection, problem-solving, appreciation, and "think writing." I can hear the wind chimes in the maple tree, the squirrel chatter, birdsong. Sometimes I can hear the Westminster clock chimes coming from the Lutheran church about a half a mile away or the "Pea Vine" train on its run from Salisbury to Badin. Sometimes I can smell honeysuckle and mimosa and the neighbor's coffee. All in all, as long as I can stay ahead of things that sting and bite, it's a very pleasant experience -- and that's not counting the cloud watching and the fact that sunlight will take tomato-based stains out of knit T-shirts like magic -- if you hang it across two lines so that the sun beats directly down on the stain. Really.

And, I think I may have even saved a dollar or two.

In closing, let me tell you the cardinal rule regarding solar drying: Never, ever leave the clothespins out in the weather. As far as my mother and grandmother were concerned, letting clothespins get rained on carried close to the death penalty. Of late, I think I can understand why. As part of the memory-keeping, I have acquired my late mother-in-law Rose's clothespins. For the women of these two generations, I think taking good care of their pins was more than just being frugal. Compared to the ones you might buy today -- if you could find them -- Rose's clothespins are so finished and of such quality, they're practically furniture.

Until next time...

No comments: