Laundry Lines

The sight of clean fresh sheets billowing on a clothesline always sends me to a place full of comforting childhood memories. I remember,as a little girl, climbing into bed at night and surrounding myself with those clean fresh sheets that had been  dried in the summer sun. I would breathe in and store that cherished memory scent beside freshly baked bread and pine trees.

Today, I am the one hanging sheets and whatever else lends itself to line drying outside in the sun. I watch my 3 girls snuggle down into their own sweet smelling sheets and blankets. I hear audible “ahhhs” as they exhale delicious contentment.

Homesteaders and all manner of citizens that are tired of paying a sizeable portion of their income to utility companies  are embracing outdoor line drying.

Line drying our laundry has many benefits for the environment.

I live in a beautiful farming area that is heavily populated by Mennonite and Amish communities. The families that live here resemble the structure of what families were like when I was growing up. Some might even say, old fashioned.

The father of the family is the primary breadwinner. They work in some kind of small family owned business. Farming, cabinet making, auto repair, plumbing – you name it- one of my neighbors is running a successful family business doing it. The mother tends carefully to her family and home. Everyone has a church family, as well. There are a lot of homeschooled children and small parochial schools.The homes are neat and inviting. Great care is taken to take care of what they have and to help each other. Clotheslines and chickens are a common sight in backyards.

Like many people, I am interested in finding ways to live more responsibly and sustainably in regards to Earth’s resources. We can learn important lessons from the previous generations. There are practices that we can employ today that our grandparents used that would be very beneficial. Drying our laundry on clotheslines or other apparatuses is one of the actions we can take – and it costs nothing!

The small self sufficient family farm from 70  years ago that dominated the landscape has many common attributes with today’s organic farms. Using the free solar energy of the sun and free breezes of wind power to replace fossil-fuel devouring appliances to dry laundry is a great idea that we can borrow from the past.

There are detractors from outdoor laundry lines. Some may envision a poor sharecropper hanging their faded and worn garments on the line because they couldn’t afford a dryer. This is an outdated stereotype of Norman Rockwell days. The homes in my neighborhood are attractive and neat. Their laundry lines are the same and look completely at home. There are some housing and residential areas that don’t allow outdoor clotheslines. Theses same areas want everyone to have the same color curtains and trash cans. I feel reasonably sure that if you are the kind of person that has chickens scratching around in your gardens and their blankets blowing in the wind, you don’t live in one of these places.

The image we should embrace is our cleverness at letting Mother Nature herself dry our clothes for free. We can embrace the feeling of knowing we are helping our Earth by sustaining her resources. Using an outdoor clothesline is one simple way we can do our part.

I can’t wait to snuggle down into my sweet smelling sheets tonight.As I drift off, the fresh scent of the outdoors will shift my brain to  a safe and comforting place. Sweet dreams are a little closer.


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