Monday: Wash Day

Late Sunday afternoon, clothes dry in the sunshine

I’m pretty sure that Monday is the traditional clothes washing day. Apparently we can thank the Victorians for this practise, which had the advantage of offering the household plenty of time throughout the week for the drying, pressing, folding and storing of the clean clothes before the Sunday when everyone dressed in their ‘Sunday best.’ Considering the rain that came down last night, and the heavy mist this morning, they’d need every possible drying opportunity from the week ahead!

But with the advent of the automatic washing machine, and the tumble dryer beside it, wash day can be, and often is in households with active children, any day of the week. So you never really know when this household chore might beckon.

I used to hate the one chore, to which I was assigned, of hanging out the wet clothes on the line to dry. Hated it, hated it. One day, grumbling as usual, I was positioning the laundry on the line, when I suddenly stopped and looked around me. The soft blue sky, the gentle breeeze, the white scudding clouds, the wonderful upland hay meadow right beside with its delightful variety of flowers, the bird song and the sunshine, the valley spread out before me — all conspired to create a clear and discrete sense of epiphany; I thought how blessed I was just to be standing there in that particular spot, at that particular time. Ever since, as I have agreed with Carrie, we call the wet laundry ‘the blessings’ and I forget to grumble anymore.

I wonder now if that experience wasn’t an early harbinger of today’s ‘wellbeing’ concept, or perhaps an unconscious personal development along the lines of ‘cognitive behavioural therapy.’ Certainly that new perspective changed my idea of an otherwise boring and onerous chore. If it also made me a nicer person to live with, so much the better!

We spent a lot of time and effort, subsequently, enhancing our clothes drying area: planting a protective row of leylandii which did grow fast to reduce the wind challenges; laying a level area of paving slabs to create a clean place to stand; adding in successive years of live Christmas trees, an oak seedling, and a birch tree for colour around the perimeter; erecting a tall board fence so that the mundanity of drying clothes does not intrude on the natural feel of our garden space. With the five clothesline poles carefully positioned for maximum line capacity, it’s like a hidden, but welcoming, courtyard for clothes drying. I wondered, how much time, in the daily scheme of things, do we typically spend courting blessings? Not ‘counting’ but ‘courting’ as in creating the space for blessings to find us.

And I realised, not nearly enough. I wish I could say that since that little epiphany, I’ve invested much more time in creating opportunities for blessings to reach me, but sadly, I suspect that too often I get caught up in the daily rigmarole and the blessings fall unappreciated by the wayside of life. But perhaps just remembering how our clothesline courtyard grew, from that one lovely experience, helps to point me on towards a happier existence where my blessings are cosseted, savoured and treasured like so much fresh-smelling laundry drying in the wind.

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