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Sheets dried on the line

— I’m going to hang clothes on the line today. It’s a gorgeous day, sunny and clear and perfect for drying. I love the smell of sheets dried on the line. It reminds me fondly of visiting my aunt in the summer. She’d be up early, making icebox buns and setting them on a ledge in the sunshine to rise under a towel. Then up she’d come from the basement, lugging a heavy basket of washed clothes out to the line. All the while she’d grouse about the bugs flying into her newly starched clothes and the ants on the peony bushes. I’d listen to the lawnmower whirring in the distance, feel the light touch of the breeze and whiff the fragrance of All and Fels Naptha with each flap of the sheets.

It was heaven enough for me.

She’d even hang out the wash in the winter, especially the sheets. They’d freeze there, stiff as a board. Her hands would be red and raw when she unclipped them from the line and came inside.

I don’t get to hang out the wash as often as I’d like. I have time to put the clothes out, but I know I won’t be back till after dark, when the dew has settled and made the clothes damp again. So there’s neither savings nor satisfaction in that way. But I still take the chance when I can. My teenage daughter especially likes her “Nana-quilt” dried on the line. That’s one of the few things she still asks me for in her season of budding independence: “Pretty please, can you wash my sheets while I’m at school and dry them outside?” Times like that, I feel the comfort has come full-circle.

I got all uppity once when I heard a rumor that in certain housing developments, they don’t allow homeowners to put up clotheslines to dry their clothes outside. I couldn’t believe it. I was angry for days. I didn’t have the heart to follow up on the rumor to find out if it was really true. I just determined within myself never to sell my soul to a housing development. There’s too much at stake.

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