Our dryer broke a few weeks ago. It still spins, but the heat doesn't work, so it takes things the whole day to dry. The repair people can't come until Thursday, and we were drowning in dirty laundry. It finally (after a week or so) occurred to me that we could put up a clothes line outside and dry our things the old fashioned way. Dan put the clothesline up for me on Saturday, and even though he was feeling sick, he did several loads of laundry for me. I took over at the end of the day. When I first went outside and started undoing the clothespins, a wonderful happy nostalgia came over me. When I was a missionary in the Philippines, many, many years ago, I spent about a year hand washing my own clothes, sheets and towels with water that I had to draw up from a well with a bucket. I poured the bucket of water into a big plastic washtub on the cement patio in our back yard, squatted down, and washed each article by hand. On good weather days, I could hang my wash to dry outside and it would be done in just an hour or two. The rest of the time, when it was rainy or super humid, we hung our clothes inside and pointed our fans at them to try to get them dry. It could take days, and they would often get a moldy smell if we couldn't keep the air moving enough.
It has been so many years since that time in my life, I had almost forgotten that I ever did laundry without a washer and dryer. Going out to the clothesline Saturday, Sunday, Monday, and again today, has been the nicest feeling. Granted, the weather has been perfect for doing laundry--sunny, breezy, not too hot, not too cold. It feels so good to take a piece of wet laundry from the basket and attach it to the line with two clothespins, one at each corner, stretching it just right so that it will dry quickly but without leaving the item misshapen. It feels good to move on to other work, knowing that the sun and wind are drying my laundry. It feels good to come back find that each item is has dried, and remove it from the line, and then start over again with the next load.
I'm glad my dryer is broken. I'm glad for this reminder that the sun and the wind can dry our laundry, and for the pleasant feeling of this form of work. I'm grateful for the memories the clothesline and clothespins bring me of a time in my life when I felt a deep connection to my ancestors as I brought water up from the ground, poured it into a tub, scrubbed my things, and hung them out to dry.