Welcome to RedbankJames Blog – Clotheslines

It’s blowing a gale today and my washing is horizontal.

In areas of America the landscape police are banning clotheslines. Not just the Chinese laundry style poles poking out from apartment blocks (condominiums to the Americans) to which I don’t object – they look pretty funky and at least you know you’re in for a ban on those when you sign up to a body corporate. No, according to Project Laundry List’s Alexander Lee whose organisation fights for the right to dry clothes in fresh air, some authorities believe clotheslines spoil the historic, or quaint, nature of small town America. So in these environmentally supersensitive days, families must use gas or electric dryers for their laundry.

Snuggle into sheets dried in a dryer rather than smelling of clean, country air? Nah, it’s just not the same.

I’ve always had a bit of a thing for country clotheslines. Driving through rural New Zealand, I enjoy studying washing and how it’s hung. Clotheslines themselves can be works of art. Best are the old-fashioned, two-wires strung between two wooden crossbars, bolted to two wooden uprights so they can be raised or lowered using a chain which is secured to a bent nail. Over time, if constructed of heart totara as they used to be, these clotheslines weathered to a beautiful patina and lasted for several generations.

As a compromise, I’ve erected (or at least my husband did) two four-by-four uprights with a pull-out Hills contraption in between. Not quite as beautiful as the former, but at least I can grow the de rigeur jasmine up the posts. Underneath, the wild mallow’s mauve flowers gratefully receive drips from the washing.

And clothes must be pegged out in a particular order – whites beside whites, boxers in a line, panties and bras on the inner wire so men can’t perv, sheets with their ends pegged together so they don’t wrap around the line, socks’ toes pointing down so your luck doesn’t run out. Then you take the dry clothes off starting with the smalls and ending with the ironing, so it’s not crushed under towels and sweatshirts.


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