Today I thought I’d share one of my favorite things about summer.
I love the smell of laundry that has been line dried. In our old home I did not have a clothesline. Our yard was too small to put one up so I would resort to hanging items out on our deck on a fold-up drier. Although it helped save me $$ on our electic bill every month it just wasn’t the same as hanging everything out on a traditional line.
When I’m out in the sunshine hanging out laundry I think of the women in the past and how many, many years ago an entire day would be dedicated to washing. If the women had daughters they would be kept home from school to help with the chore unless you were one of the wealthy and could send out your items to a place in the city.
There were a large number of laundries in cities because of the importance of keeping linen white, but most women did laundry at home and it was backbreaking labor. Clothes had to be soaked, boiled and beaten, then rinsed and wrung out by hand, and dried in the fresh air. Washboards and sticks made doing the laundry a little easier, but it was still a very time-consuming task. Leftover soapy water was given to the poor, because soap was still too expensive for most people. In addition to the regular laundry, a “Grand Wash” took place twice a year. It was a symbolic ritual, lasting three days. Some say that that it represented Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise. The “Grand Wash” was a symbol of purification, the triumph of clean over unclean.
Because laundry day was such a huge undertaking clothing was only washed once every two or three months. Could you imagine if we only laundered that often? I want to hug my Maytag when I think of those poor ladies.
At the end of a long day nothing is better than crawling into bed and drifting off to the scent of sheets that have dried in the sunshine knowing that I did not have to spend and entire day (or three!) to enjoy them.