Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Unexpected Gift

Last weekend, just after my husband and I were talking about the challenging financial times (ours personally, not globally), our dryer broke. Hmmm… no extra cash this month for such inconveniences. So instead we put up a clothes line. It’s been something we’ve talked about doing for over a year. It makes sense ecologically of course, and with the times, saves some money as well. And so now, out of necessity, we got to it.

And what a great gift this has been, what a delightful shift in our routines! We have, as a result of our “misfortune,” started to live our life more consciously. We have had to actually pay better attention to the weather – no point in starting a load of laundry when it looks like rain (we’ve had unseasonably cool and cloudy weather this June in the foothills). And that habit of starting a load at 8:00 at night? That won’t do – wet clothes sitting for long periods of time take on very unpleasant odors! Wait until morning it must.

The best gift of all though, has been spending more time outside. In the ritual of hanging out the clothes to dry, and then in taking them in again, I have been blessed with shifting my life to more of an outdoor focus. While draping wet towels over the line, I listen to the different birds sing and call out, whether in harmonious joy or in alarm to warn each other of our approaching cats. I feel the gentle breeze on my arms as I pull the clothes pins from their drawstring bag. I watch the turkey vulture soar down the ridge as I hang up the socks. More often than not, I forget what I'm doing and just stop and take it all in. The dark greens of the live oaks contrasting with the bright greens of the black oaks, the trickle of water still meandering in the seasonal creek, and the smell of bear clover and pine trees in the warm morning sun.

Once the clothes are dry, I also now remember that I need to bring them in at the end of the day. As dusk settles over our home, I walk outside and notice the rosy light on the tops of the cedars and pines, I smell the muskiness of a skunk somewhere in the area, and I feel the coolness of day’s end on my skin. Before our clothesline, I may not have ventured out much after dinner, but now, out of necessity, I do so more often. And then, not needing a reason any longer, I instead choose to go outside on my own, without the need to bring in laundry, but rather, to simply experience the many sensations of nature, of the earth – the sights, smells, sounds, and feelings of this beautiful place I call home.

I see no hurry to ever fix our dryer at all. Actually, donating it (after we get it fixed) might be the best thing we could do with it. Hmmm, something to consider!

So I am thankful for this chance to become more conscious in my actions, and in my daily life.

I am grateful for this unexpected gift.


  1. I lived in an old house in Angels that had a drying yard, and I often thought about all the women before me that used it. I also had a nice reel-out one in a house I lived in in Arnold. I really enjoyed it too (though maybe not so much the stiff towels!) I would really like to get one again. I think you've inspired me. You may want to keep your dryer as backup in the winter though.

  2. Ahhh, beautiful! Thanks for this lovely description of the joys of having a clothesline.