We had busy days and slow days, and not-putting-on-clothes-till-gone-lunch time days.
And what was the common thread that wove together the full and the empty?
Why the washing line of course.
I finally have a washing line. Not even since the days of my mother's whirligig. It stretches from a grey pole at the front of the garden to the fence at the back. This line has become a ritual steeped in yoga. Everything slows down pegging up the knickers and socks. There are wooden pegs and pink pegs and blue pegs. I use two pegs for shirts, three for bed sheets, one for bras. There's something undeniably satisfying when the washing dries in the blink of an eye. Then, the smell of air dried, sun-kissed clothes. Perfect.
No, I am not a fifties housewife; but I have discovered a middle way, a slice of zen, in watching Younger Dads boxer's waft in the breeze, or the way the arms of his upturned checked shirts swing like those of lazy monkeys.
My washing line. A not so subtle social commentary. Here's what it says about us. Father. Mother. Child. That I wear too much blue. That Little A has the best socks. The garden across hangs uniform rows of dark socks or plain white shirts. To my mind, that says corporate worker bee. Clock in. Clock out. What my line doesn't reveal is lover of cheesecake, and writer, and listener, and friend.
My washing line. A transparent narrative in the art of obsession. When I dress the line, I am clothing a body from top to bottom. First Younger Dad's shirts, the hanging monkeys, followed by t-shirts and trousers, underwear and socks; all dangling over the wooden play house. Little A passes the pegs. We make our way up the lawn item by item, the odd drunken butterfly, tissue winged and white, looping towards the buddleia nearby. I don't like to muddle the order of clothes. Visually, it would look plain wrong. A row of broken teeth. Jagged and disjointed. I prefer a smooth graduation, from long trouser legs to size-eight-little-person socks. A flow respecting an order in height.
The bedclothes are an entirely different story, one told every Thursday morning. The duvet covers and bed sheets divide the garden in two, hiding the borders and the gravel pathway. When they're dismantled, I'm a magician reuniting a pair of legs and a lonely torso. A garden conjured, complete again.
I love nothing more than unpegging the line at day's end, a calming marker, in company of mellow wood pigeons, shy rustling of silver birch, and the screaming children two doors down. I take pleasure in folding the clothes, watching the pile grow; a multi-layered cake. I roll Younger Dad's boxers into giant cigars, shove Little A's knickers down available spaces. And when it's completely full, the line bounces up with joy, a return to freedom; relieved from the weight of our family of three.
This is the first day of the seasonal linky One Week. Over the next three days (Monday till Wednesday) I'll be posting a photograph(s) and a few words that diarises and distills my experience of summer '13. Take a peep at the details here. You can join in for one, two ... or the full three days. And don't forget to add #oneweek on Twitter, and comment on each others posts...
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