Welcome to Lydia McCauley's Garden of Simples Blog

The highest reward for a person's toil is not what they get from it, but what they become by it. - John Ruskin

Lydia McCauley and Kurt Scherer are owners of STONEHOUSE ARTIFACTS, offering Treasures from Colonial India. Online Here.

Our shop is located in Bellingham, Washington. We welcome you to come and visit our small estate, enjoy the grounds and share a cup of Chai.

Friday, June 19, 2009

It's All So Fine When You Are At The Clothesline

I've always had respect for laundry. I mean, I like laundry. It's sort of sacred to me. Hand washing, hanging clothes to dry, pressing linens. It's odd because I certainly don't feel that way about other "household chores" such as vacuuming or doing dishes (although, come to think of it I have some delightful times just thinking at the sink). At our house laundry piles up long about Thursday or Friday. It gets divided into whites, colours, delicates. The sheets get pulled from the bed and thrown in.

In warm or sunny weather the clothes get hung outside on an umbrella looking line. You know, the old fashioned kind. It took us quite a while to locate one. We store it away in the winter and joyfully bring it back out in the spring. That's when the first swallows are returning, and the catkins are hanging from the big leaf maple. One can notice things whilst hanging out clothes on the line. There are small and dear Savannah sparrows that sing in our meadow, "sweet bird, sweet sweet bird, pretty pretty pretty." I've seen murders of crows flying in circles above the hay fields. And hawks, eagles, even owls going by. As you pin the linens on the line the sky shows through, very blue. Sometimes clouds. It's all so fine when you are at the clothesline.

There's that fresh scent that comes from being aired outside. Everything is crispy and cleaner it seems from the sun. Now, towels have their own way of becoming stiff and uninviting. It's just the way they are. However, the exfoliating advantages from a towel on the line can be recommended by some. And by day two of using them they usually soften up.

Early this spring I was hanging some clothes in the wind. I kept hearing a distant flute in a simple combination of notes. Over and over this little ditty kept playing. Was it a neighbor practicing a penny whistle? How quaint I thought. We have neighbors who practice the whistle. But it kept happening every time it was windy. I finally figured out that these little holes on the clothesline pole were making a little tune. A musical clothesline! I loved it even more.

One thing about being a laundress is you may find treasures that come from the pockets of the laundry. Sometimes it's only nails or screws, or the singular earplug. But last week I hit the jackpot. Seventeen dollars! Thus the dilemma, does one get to keep the money?

A long time ago people used to dry laundry over lavender bushes.

Here's a dictionary reference for lavender:
c.1265, "fragrant plant of the mint family," from Anglo-Fr. lavendre, from M.L. lavendula "lavender" (10c.), perhaps from L. lividus "bluish, livid." Associated with Fr. lavande, It. lavanda "a washing" (from L. lavare "to wash;" see lave) because it was used to scent washed fabrics and as a bath perfume. The meaning "pale purple color" is from 1840.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2001 Douglas Harper

It's raining today and the clothes are in the dryer, but maybe I'll try draping them over the lavender next week. What could be better?

Happy laundering to all, and to all a good day.

Photo of Meadowhouse by Mary McCauley