Sunday, 8 September 2013

#One Week - Summer '13 - The Zen of Washing

...And so I stared at the naked notepad in front of me, then to the calendar, then back to the white pages. How was I going to fill the six weeks ahead of me? A list. I had to make a list. An itinerary of entertainment. Visits to farms. Visits to parks. Play dates...

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...


Badge Code ...

<a href="http://older-mum.blogspot.co.uk/p/one-week.html" title="One Week"><img src="http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8436/7807711152_5f912c7903_m.jpg" width="225" height="169" alt="one week" /></a>


Also joining in with....





67 comments:

  1. One of the many things I miss about having a garden is a washing line, I have still had to use the tumble dryer on some of the hottest days this summer, as I run out of places to drape wet washing that are out of Syds ever growing reach. Love this post, lovely to read your wonderful writing again! :)

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    1. A washing line has been a real novelty for me... I used to drape wet washing everywhere too - will still have to when it gets colder - and I don't have a tumble dryer. Thank you lovely. :o).

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  2. That was absolutely brilliant! I love seeing the washing billowing in the wind on the line and the aroma of fresh air on the clothes. I am missing it already with the rain here and as it's too warm for the heating to be on, it will have to be the tumble dryer! Would love to join in with #oneweek but I cannot hope to match your fabulous writing, I feel the way about photography that you do about writing xx

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    1. Thank you *blushes*. Sun dried clothes have an extra special smell don't they? Soon we'll be doing it all inside again, and I don't have a tumble drier . You must join in. You are a good writer AND a great photographer. X.

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  3. My washing line is terribly unorganised, I'm wondering what that says about me :-) Sometimes I even use the climbing frame..

    I really enjoyed reading this, and I'm never going to look at clothes hanging in quite the same way again, but in a good way. I'm going to take more notice and think what the line says about the people. x

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    1. It says you are spontaneous and fun :o). I love that you use your climbing frame to hang your clothes on - that made me smile! X.

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  4. It's so lovely to have you back blogging! Your writing is just effortless, each post I am hooked! For me, there's nothing quite like the smell of 'fresh' washing off the line. It's one of my favourite things about summer ;) xx

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    1. Thank you very much. I feel humbled by your comment. And yes! Me too! Fresh washing on the line smells fab... :o) X.

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  5. What a surprising start to this #oneweek! No less lovely for that though. I completely understand the domestic bliss derived from the washing out and in and the semblance of order required, but you are brilliant poetic with it, plus add some fab pics to boot :) xx

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    1. Well I am glad to have surprised you my dear! I'd had this post in the back of my head for a while. And glad you liked the photos :o). X.

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  6. I've always loved a washing line. Loved.

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    1. Me too! Thank you for coming over to comment. Nice to meet you.

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  7. The washing comes rain or shine..but washing dried on the line is so much better. Fresh and crisp, scented by the open air. Lovely post and those hydrangeas are beautiful. x

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    1. Washing on the line smells so good doesn't it? And so much crisper too. Thank you very much. X.

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  8. Welcome back - and what an opening post for One Week. Lovely read. I've got a whirlygig and I love it. Unfortunately any zen like experience I may have of putting out the washing has disappeared since Pip decided that he very much enjoys fixing all my pegs together to make models...which means hanging out the washing takes a long time now.

    Being is such close proximity to neighbours in London I don't like them looking at my undies, so these are left to dry inside! (How old fashioned of me :0))

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    1. Aha - I never put my undies on the line with students in the house as well as the neighbours to consider! Am so glad to read this because every single time I don't do it, I wonder if it's just a little bit crazy! I believe you not to be crazy so will consider it not to be! xx

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    2. Thank you very much MP! Little A does that too.... she takes all the pegs out of the bag and starts pegging them all together in tower-like shapes. And no, not old fashioned, I have thought about hanging my undies inside too. I squirm at my neighbour's undies, I'm sure they do the same with me! :o).

      Anya.... I can totally understand you wouldn't put the undies out with all those students :o).

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  9. So lovely to have you back Sarah. I hope you had a fabulous summer. Washing on the line is one of those ultimate summer pictures for me and I too love the smell of line dried washing. I also have an order in which things must be hung :) Such a great post, you paint a wonderful picture and it's lovely to have #OneWeek back again xx

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    1. Thank you! I did thank you very much.... it was calm, sunny, and we took each day as it came along. Washing on the line was a revelation for me this summer! Thank you lovely! X.

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  10. I am not liking that the sun has gone as I need to dry my washing on the line because the tumble dryer is broken! x

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    1. Yes... I know what you mean. I could do with a few more warm days. And I don't even have a tumble dryer.... I will be hanging up wet washing around the house again soon. X.

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  11. Everything's so higgledy-piggledy on my washing line, wonder what that says about me!
    Very lovely to catch up with you and your wonderful words xx

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    1. It says your fun, fun, fun! Thank you lovely - I am looking forward to reading you again too! X.

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  12. Only you could turn the mundane washing line into a beautiful story! So good to have you back blogging again. What a fabulous summer it's been for experimenting with drying the washing outdoors eh?

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    1. Thank you very much lovely lady! And it was a great summer in the end - so nice to have weeks of endless sunshine. And the washing line turned out to be quite a joy!

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  13. Can I make a quick suggestion about One Week? That you just use the one linky code and repaste it every day...that way you end up at the end of the week with all posts in one place :) Does that make sense?

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    1. Yes of course you can! And I have taken your advise on board and copying the same linky over. Only wished I'd done that before!

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  14. Lovely photos. I love hanging my washing out, especially when it dries in no time. I find myself looking for stuff to wash just to hang it out to dry on a nice day. Now Winter is coming, I'll need to invest in a tumbledryer to get the school clothes dried in time!

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    1. Thank you very much. I know what you mean about the tumble dryer - I will have to do the same thing. At the moment I don't have one!

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  15. Welcome back and what a lovely post. Your linky has inspired me to write something again after quite a long break myself. How lovely it was to have all the washing dry in record time! And it always smells so fresh after drying in the air. I'm with Mummy Plum, though. I don't put our undies out either. ;-P

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    1. Thank you Polly! And you linked up some lovely posts this week. Sun dried washing smells so good! Maybe I should develop some shame and not put my undies out! :o).

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  16. Lovely post. Looking after our families' clothes is another way of showing how much we love them. I remind myself of this every time I have to start another mound of ironing! My mother-in-law had a trick where she would fold up wet clothes and smooth them flat with her hands. Then she'd hang them up on the line and somehow, like magic, they would be almost as flat when they dried as if you'd already ironed them. We have to make the most of these last few good drying days of the year! x

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    1. Thank you very much! That's a very good point - it is BUT recently I have found an ironing service for big loads of ironing i.e. husbands shirts - the ironing does my head in sometimes.... liking your mother-in-laws ironing method! X

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  17. Oh yes, the washing line. And now summer is drawing to a close what are we to do? How many more airings can be wrung out of the last warm days before the tumble drier kicks into action once more eh!!! Good to have you back on the blog xxx

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    1. Thank you lovely! I don't have a tumble drier (I wish I did ). Might have to twist Younger Dad's arm for one! X.

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  18. Stunning pictures! Bye bye summer!

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  19. I loved reading about your washing line - you made laundry interesting ;-)and adore the photos! Welcome back :-)

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    1. Thank you very much! No more washing line soon... will be hanging up wet clothes around the house :o(. Glad to be back though... :o).

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  20. I get you. We don't have a washing line (joys of apartment living) and I miss pegging out the washing. It's that fresh spring/summer feeling that a tumble drier can't duplicate.

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    1. It has been nice having a washing line this summer. Unfortunately we don't have a tumble dryer... might need to invest in one now!

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  21. Oh I wish I had your enthusiasm, I just can't stand hanging washing!!! My husband has taken over chief washer position, I always feel like I could achieve so much more in the same time it takes to hang a full load! Loved your comment about time slowing dow - that is exactly how I feel!!!

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    1. One's blessing, another's poison! I agree with you though but I find hanging the washing slows everything down and stops me rushing about the place so much!

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  22. Love your washing line musings. My washing line is very tempting as it gives me a lovely view of the garden and over the field - so much so that I'm distracted and half of the washing ends up falling into the herbs, or less fragrantly, the mud. I'm also bad at pegging out white sheets just where I need to navigate a wheelbarrow later in the day.

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    1. Thank you very much! Sounds like you have a very nice line - the view must be very nice if your clothes fall in the herbs! :o).

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  23. Welcome back lovely, we've missed you! You're the only person that can write about a washing line and tell the most wonderful story. I will read up on what I should be doing so I can join in. Thank you so much for sharing with #whatsthestory

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    1. Thank you! I didn't realise how much I had missed this until I came back! I was worried writing about a washing line would be, well, a little boring. I intend to share more on #whatsthestory, it's a great linky.

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  24. It is so lovely to have you back :) What a beautiful post to come back with too. I love your ordering on the washing line. If only I could be so methodical! But you are right - the very fact of hanging washing out is so quintessentially summer. I"m looking forward to reading more from you now you are writing again xx

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    1. Thank you.... and it's lovely to be back. (I'm not always so methodical :o) but it does help clear my head when I am). Hanging the washing outside is very summer indeed. And I am very much looking forward to reading you again too! X.

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  25. What a really beautiful post, I too feel the same about my washing line and I am dreading the days i cant put it out

    thanks for linking up with #MagicMoments x

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    1. Thank you so much! Yes I am too... I don't like hanging up damp clothes inside, takes a lot longer to dry out, and it smells all wrong. X.

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  26. Loving this post and the photos are gorgeous :)

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    1. Thank you very much. Very kind. :o).

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  27. Love your washing line post and all the photos...Beautiful post as always.
    Great to have you back and with the One Week linky too! :o) xx

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    1. Thank you and thank you! It's good to be back lovely! X.

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  28. I have a thing about washing lines too... love watching them on a breezy day. How very lovely to have you back xx

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    1. Very calming to watch them isn't it? Thank you, it's good to be back! X.

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  29. I love a long line. Mine fell down and now have nowhere to hang it. A round one never works in our garden and isn't quite the same (we have too much blue as well.
    #MagicMoments

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    1. Me too! Have you been drying your's inside then? That's what I'm going to have to start doing soon now the weather is turning pants.... I don't have a tumble dryer!

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  30. Stunning pics! I love your way of looking at life, it adds vibrancy to the everyday. The secrets of our washing line are endless pegs, a shirt needs at least five pegs - or so DB insists. It is never too early to get a little boy to indulge in housework ;)

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    1. Thank you very much! Glad to hear that you've got him well trained. I think a washing line can tell a thousand stories. :o)

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  31. You are so right, there is just the best feeling when you can turnaround a load of washing in an hour or so. I just don't like the putting it away again at the end!

    Really lovely photos. The blue sky in the first picture is stunning.

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    1. And doesn't it smell so nice too? Thank you very much - I am now wistfully thinking about that blue sky on this grey, drizzly autumnal morning!

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  32. We've had a clothes horse for years and our conservatory became a sort of make shift laundry room for a really long time. My son loves raiding Nanny's leg bucket and sticking them all over himself. I should put a line up really!

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    1. Little A makes all sorts of constructions with our pegs and sticks them all over the grass. Now that's a very good use of the conservatory!

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  33. I have a bad OCD for hanging washing. It has to be hung perfectly otherwise it drives me crazy. I love seeing washing blowing in the wind. It was fab when we lived in Devon, as our row of gardens backed on to the sea and everyones washing hanging on our lines was such a great combination xxx

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    1. I really like the idea of everyone's washing hanging on their lines, the a view of the sea. I'll bet that was really colourful. I think I am OCD with everything! X.

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