Growing up on a farm, there was never a shortage of chores for us to do. Uttering the words, “I’m bored” got us a one way ticket to Mom’s garden or out to the field to see what Dad might need. We learned to keep that statement to ourselves.
Feeding the cattle, horses, pigs and chickens was a morning and a nightly routine. Summer days began with picking the eggs, watering Mom’s plants, mowing the lawn or weeding. Weeding usually turned into dirtball fights and longing talks about the beach just down the road.
It seemed she chose the hottest days to preserve summer favorites: cherries, peaches, pears, crab apples, jams and jellies. Of course we enjoyed the her efforts but, at the time, we just wanted to ride our ponies and our bikes and run through the coulees and not be bothered with all that stuff.
But the hardest chore, no matter the weather, was lugging baskets of heavy, wet laundry up the basement stairs and across the yard to the clothesline out back.
For many years, Mom had a wringer washer, 5 kids, and no dryer.
Earlier this week, our dryer died after a year-long illness. It just finally quit. Stopped. Done.
Easy-peasy I thought, hopping online to order a new one. Free home delivery you say? Sweet. Oh, I need to buy the power cord separately? Really? OK, into the shopping card it went.
So here we were, the three of us, Hubbs, me and youngest boy … hanging our clothes to dry. No issue for me, I hand wash all of my clothes and hang them to dry, have for years. Hubbs grew up with a clothesline, he knows this gig. But youngest boy, well let’s just say he’s never experienced towels that hadn’t been fluffed in a dryer. He’s never felt a crunchy clean towel on his sun-kissed skin. Never had to iron. That’s right, I said it out loud. And I hang my head in shame.
You see, growing up, all that laundry had to come back into the house, too, and there it accumulated, in a pile in Mom’s bedroom until she had time to iron it. Or had me do it.
And I loved to iron. Why?
Because, like painting a bedroom, ironing provides me instant gratification. Cause and effect. You can see the results of your efforts. Smelling fresh air embedded into a cotton shirt, 15 minutes of zoning out and pressing allows me to stand back and marvel at my results.
And ironing afforded me something else: access to her. If I stayed in the house and helped, I gained a birds-eye view to the heart of our home – Mom’s kitchen. I was privy to lunchtime chats with Dad, evening meetings with local farmers who stopped by, and quiet moments while he read the paper and she did the books. Opportunities to converse, be heard, be still, and savor. My heart smiles at the memory.
Our new dryer arrived yesterday, with the wrong cord, of course. After the delivery guys left, I drove to the local store, got the right cord and hooked it up myself. It works great and the towels are fluffy, once again.
But next to it stands the ironing board, ready for youngest boy who’s taking a lesson in instant gratification today.
“You can’t get spoiled if you do your own ironing.”
Did you grow up with a clothesline? Do you remember the scents of summer in clothesline-dried clothes? Do you iron? Yes? Never? Not a chance?