Laundry Days

I’ve become reacquainted with the sheets and pillows on my bed thanks to the flu. About all I can do is sleep lately. And edit this bit of writing I did before “Ambush of the Virus Crud” started playing on infinite loop. Enjoy while I go back to sleep some more.

Laundry.

Everyone talks about it but no one does anything about it.

Oh, wait. That’s the weather.

I’m sure there’s some awesome correlations there. But that’s another day.

photo by Michael Gäbler

photo by Michael Gäbler

Actually, I have some ethereal memories of laundry drying on the line when I was a young child. I remember especially the sheets catching the breeze and snapping in the gusts. Walking between the rows of semi-damp jeans, socks, pillow cases, towels, t-shirts and diapers felt adventurous. Getting a face full of sun and air-dried sheet filled my head with the scent of clean. Not some corporate version of “fresh linen” or “mountain air” fakeness.

I yearn for that real smell to envelop me when I snuggle into the covers at night. Imagine dreaming with that oxygen-rich sensation filling your lungs and heart. Imagine being surrounded by a fresh, smooth sun-infused sheet as you drift off each night.

Wondrous.

The other laundry smell I remember with fondness happened indoors and coincided with the sound of soap operas. All that sun and air-dried laundry ended up wrinkly and needing the coaxing of heat and steam to smooth out the creases and lines inherent in mostly cotton fabric. Mom had a bottle with small holes she’d fill with water then sprinkle over a pile of laundry to dampen it before setting to work with the iron. She could miraculously turn that dampness into flat, smooth freshly pressed handkerchiefs, workshirts, skirts, dresses and tablecloths in no time.

Or it seemed like no time to me.

Actually the long rather boring long process went faster to the accompaniment of a soap opera or two. I simply recall the steamy scent of fresh laundry filling the house as I sat at the kitchen table eating a tuna sandwich before heading off to kindergarten. Those smells speak of surety and safety, security and softness. I have only to remember Mom standing in the kitchen on those days to instill a sense of all’s right with the world in the center of me.

I don’t know about that idea of “cleanliness being next to godliness,” but I do know that smell of outdoor dried laundry seems like a bit of heaven on earth.

I think it’s against the CC&R’s in our HOA. (Translation: CC&R Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions HOA: Home Owner’s Association.)

No, really, I think it’s against the rules to hang laundry outside in your very own, enclosed and walled in backyard here in my little town. Trashy looking apparently.

To be honest, it’s a ton of work to hang laundry outside. I’ve done it before in a non-HOA environment.  In Oklahoma, I think. I felt ultra domestic. It didn’t last long. We had a spell of  bad weather, or the dryer got fixed or I came to my senses.

Crunchy?

Nowadays it would maybe land me at a one on the crunchy mom scale. And then this other thing I used to do might make me extra “crunchy.”

I used cloth diapers back in the day for my first two kids. Not to save the environment, but because we couldn’t afford the fairly new and very pricey luxury of disposable diapers for two children at the same time. Not sure we could even afford them for one child.

I still shudder when I think of washing diapers. That smell memory nearly knocks me off my feet. I did a load of diapers every single day. You can’t let a babe sit around in a soggy cloth diaper without causing actual physical harm to that delicate skin.

To this day, a quarter century later, if I have to use a safety-pin for something I automatically run it through my hair (to pick up a bit of natural oil) so it will slide through the fabric easier. That’s what I did countless times a day for years with the diaper pins I used.

The shudder of that remembered smell still, rather oddly, carries with it sweet memories of two of my babies. I push the negative cloud aside and reach instead for the sound of laughter in the bathtub before bedtime. I see two red noses and chubby cheeks bundled in winter coats and gloves being pulled behind a saucer sled in the snow. I see a sandbox filled with sand castles, roads, water and then little tanned bodies splashing in a plastic play pool.

photo by Hyena (Wikicommons)

photo by Hyena (Wikicommons)

All those fun things we did together created more laundry to wash and dry and fold and put away. And, honestly and truly, it was worth every minute of the work.

I’m in awe at the speed those those far distant and not so distant days disappeared and became these I walk through now.

Amazing. And wonder filled.

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Categories: Family, Memory Lane, parenting | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

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One thought on “Laundry Days

  1. Isn’t it interesting what memories a certain smell brings?

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