A while ago, Janet from Muppinstuff wrote this post about her washing line. She also keeps a really great blog about washing-related matters here at Mrs Washalot. Doing the washing and hanging it out on the line is one of my favourite domestic duties. Actually, it is the only one I like doing. Most others I resist until I really have to do them. (If i didn't have a washing machine, and had to wash clothes the old-fashioned way, I might feel differently.)
I suppose it's something to do with being outside first thing in the morning, either by myself, or with the children playing with their trains and trucks underfoot. And the smell of wet fabric. And the birds singing and insects buzzing and the neighbour's cat hanging around, watching.
I like to hang the clothes on the washing line in order of who wears what, and hopefully that's not too wierd. It feels like an aesthetic decision even though we can't see our washing line from the house, it's tucked around the back, in a corner. There's something about a line-up of small boy's clothing though, or a row of Tom's work shirts, that I like. As if the empty clothes can conjure up the person.
I used to help Mum out with the washing, but I'm not sure I enjoyed it so much as a child. There was a lot to do- I was the eldest of five children, so the amount of clothing and nappies and towels and bedding and then Dad's farm gear meant she would do more than one load a day. She had one clothesline near the house, and then another long piece of rope tied between two trees in the orchard, as a back-up measure. One of my earliest memories is of her with a big plastic washing basket in the grass by that line.
Anna, a friend of ours, wrote this article about young parents when she was working for the lovely Staple Magazine (sadly no longer published.) A polaroid camera was sent around the country for each interviewee to use to take pictures of their family which were then published with the writing. Tom photographed me in front of the washing line in our first little house- it was up on a hill behind, with wild grass and dandelions underfoot because it was too steep to mow. I spent a lot of time up there when Arlo was new, just hanging around the washing line.