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Sunday, February 22, 2009

Slinging the Carpet over the Railing

Let's get the demons out of the way right off the bat. Demons are filling my room today: black despairing demons spiraling down, down.


Myself, I blame it on the weather. They told us warm (or perhaps it was just wishful thinking that made me hear that) and yet it's cold. I knew it would be. I knew there'd be no spring for us this year. "Warmer" is a dying concept. "Colder" is what we'll get, over and over.


All right. Get a grip. Remember that cold is simply a sensation. Your lifelong fear of cold is based on some frozen childhood memory, not on any kind of reality. Re-read that line above: cold is simply a sensation: a sensation like that of warm water running over your hands as you wash them; the sensation of smoky chocolate squares melting between a hot tongue and a hard palate. Cold is just another sensation. Enjoy it.


After all, what will happen when it does finally get warm this spring? It'll be time to clean the house, won't it? Time to take the area rugs out to the back porch and sling them, one at a time, over the railing. What we really need, of course, is to string a strong clothesline across the back yard so that we can sling those carpets over the line and beat them with the carpet beater. Air them out. Release the fleas and mites and dust bunnies, all the indoor winter creatures. Shake them out, beat them out so that you can carry a cool, pristine carpet back into the house and lay it on the newly washed and polished floor.


And what a pipe dream that is, eh? There may be a day or two, once the air is fresh instead of freezing, when I'll actually open the windows, wash a few of them, and empty out a closet or a drawer. I've always admired a woman who spring cleans thoroughly, setting aside a week to revive her home and make it ready for a new season. I've admired her, but I haven't aspired to be her.


Right now I'm trying to adjust to the new slant of the sun as it lowers in the afternoon. It streams through my front windows and spreads light all over the living room and dining room floor, illuminating, with its low angle, every single crumb, every bit of dust on the floor. So these days I find myself daily with my little brush-and-dustpan set,  crouching to sweep up what the sun has uncovered. I assume that the floorboards beyond the reach of the sunlight are equally dust-affected, but that really is not my business. Out of sight, out of mind.


Let's go back to that sturdy clothesline over which one might, in spring, sling one's carpets. I want one! Not for carpets but for my overheated, over-tumbled clothing. It is probable that I'll only use it in the summer, but I want to hang towels outside and let them dry to a rough texture that will buff my showered skin. I want my sheets to whip in the wind until the cotton fibers go weak and soft and carry the outdoors smell into my bedroom. I want real feelings to surround my clothes, not the stale lump-thump of the dryer.


I remember carrying bushel baskets of laundry outside and pegging the wet, wrung clothes to the line with wooden spring-type clothes pins. Shirt-tail to shirt-tail to shirt-tail. The economy of overlapping each garment with its neighbor, using three pins instead of four to hang two garments. Socks pinned in pairs if they were thin, pinned singly if they were thick, to avoid damp toes. Sheets folded in half so as not to sweep the ground in their swinging. And everything hung so neatly (although without the controlling persnicketiness of those who said you had to hang sheets first, then towels, then kitchen towels, then skirts—or whatever the order was supposed to be). My joy and pride was simply to pin the clothes precisely at two edges instead of pegging them with one central pin that left the garment to float like an abandoned rag from its single anchor. My standards weren't high, but oh, I was proud of my clothes line.


Lacking a clothesline, on very hot summer days, I lug my collapsible wooden clothes rack to the back yard and drape my washing over the wooden rungs as efficiently as I can. The sun dries everything eventually. But the wooden rack prohibits flapping in the wind, and space is too limited for me to display the washing beautifully for all to see. It's better than the dryer, but it's just not the same as a real clothesline.


Copyright 2009 Ann Tudor