Simply Laundry. Photo credit: E.Claire, 13yo. Pastry Child Photography.
This Summer, much to my husbands dismay, I bought two retractable laundry lines. I could read it all over his face, “Another cockamamie idea of Rachelle’s that will never come to pass.” But before he could point out that I don’t have TIME to hang laundry– and also we have no sun, I blurted out my reasoning. “It reminds me of hanging up the laundry with my Gooney Gooney Grandpa.” Instead of skeptical words, he smiled. I could read it in the crinkled corners of his eyes, “Oh, I see. It’s a ritual wrapped in a story.”
Gooney Gooney Grandpa was what we called my Great Grandfather. He used to make that noise when he bounced us on his knee. “GooneyGooneyGooney.” He’s been gone a long time now and I have only fleeting memories of him. But when I hang the laundry I remember. I remember him passing hand over hand along the line. I recall my four-year-old self handing him the clothes pins with pride. I remember the best bit — stealing a pomegranate from the neighbor’s tree when the task was done.
Most of the rituals of my day go by unseen. Mundane. Hurried. Automated. But there are things that help me stop and notice. Making chai in the red enameled pot. Watering the garden with the stubborn hose. And now this, the slow repeated pattern of hanging clothes on the line. Bend. Pluck. Drape. Pinch. Repeat.
The ritual of hanging laundry is a rite of noticing. I notice that the strappy sundress and denim shorts I hang on the line are much more grown up than my younger daughter’s clothes used to be. Pinned next to each other, my older daughter’s tank top hang as long as mine, a testament to her graceful teenage figure. Drape. Pin. Repeat. I am grateful, so grateful that they have grown this old, have lived this long. (Our first child did not.)
Bend. Pluck.I move on to the cloth napkins, handmade, with our initials embroidered on the corner. I feel virtuous. So green of me, isn’t it? Cloth napkins. Line drying. A laugh wells up inside me. I know I am only virtuous in ways that serve me best. It is only in the places where beauty meets story that I can rally myself to do the right thing. Beautiful napkins held on a storied line, and volia! I am a green crusader.
Pluck. Drape. The delicates wait now in the basket, my stockings flap in the breeze. The different sides of myself come into view. Mother, all napkins and tea towels, and children’s clothes. Lover, fishnets and lacy trimmed panties.
Drape. Pinch. The line is full now and the basket bare. So I return upstairs to my third self. Healer, where I write these words to you.
May beauty, story, and repetition enter your world today. And may it bring comfort to your frazzled soul.
*your magpie girl
Do you need helping taking notice of what Mary Oliver calls “your one wild, precious life?” My next mindfulness course is being offered as part of a very affordable discount package. If this feels right-fit to you, you can find out more here. Thank you for being here today. -R