Monday, March 21, 2011

Oh, for the love of laundry.

The more I search out amongst this life for the simplicity upon which I wish to build MY life, the more I come to realise the extent to which modern conveniences deprive us of the artful nature of many everyday tasks as they were performed in the past. Not to mention how much we now take them for granted. And, as equally beautiful as were the ways in which those days now long passed were lived, so too were the tools that were used to perform such daily household undertakings. So as I search daily for ways to create a more meaningful existence, I also set about fossicking and foraging through op-shops and second-hand stores for those items now aged, and vintage, and full of history and character that will always remind me that in fact I still have hands, and hands have much ability and purpose that seems to be preoccupied in this modern world.

Okay, so I still employ the services of my electric washing machine and not of my washboard, but not that many years ago there simply was little if any other choice. What can now be done with the push of a few buttons, used to be a whole days performance, yet even with modern convenience some of us still can't seem to find the time. 

If you consider the amount of time that we spend each day wearing clothes, drying our bodies with towels, washing the grubby faces of our children with cloths, or snuggled up between blankets and sheets to sleep, then linens and fabrics have a fairly important role in our lives; And, so to then does laundering it. 

I must admit I do enjoy the luxury of having a machine that washes my clothes for me, as opposed to having to make a trip to the river every time a basket of dirty clothes needs washing. But then again, just like the sweetness of dry sheets freshly plucked from a clothesline in the open breeze, I imagine the effort of a good old washing day down in the river would feel rather rewarding.

Yet either way, the task itself can be far more meaningful and rewarding when the importance of what washing is can be considered, the beauty in it discovered, and the effort sought - to get physical and get your hands dirty, or in this case clean. Gently caring for the cloths, and clothes, and fabrics that in turn provide us comfort and protection, rather than seeing it simply as a monotonous chore.

Equally important is what we use to wash our clothes. Since I was very little I have had to live with the often irritation of scratchy skin, but having for the past few years begun using plant and mineral based washing powders, I have aided the resolution of a potentially lifelong discomfort. It also helps to live a healthy and balanced life, but every little part of life makes up the whole. I also have the peace of mind in knowing that what is discarded back into the earth is of as least detriment as possible.

The good thing about living with such enthusiasm is that regardless of the task at hand kids seem to enjoy getting involved with anything you do, it seems to simply not matter when it's fun. If everyday that I wash our clothes my little man sees a joy in me as I do, and he can share in that, then I don't doubt that he may also discover this love for laundry.

Being outside in the breeze with your toes in the grass and breathing in deeply - its delightfully serene and calming with a real childlike enjoyment to it, and why should it have to be any other way. Life is meant to be enjoyed, filled with simple pleasures, like floating between sheets drying on a line, Or eating left-over birthday cake in your very own make-shift tent on the side of a hill...

...And reading aloud stories to the passing breeze of giants, and elves, and devious little woodland animals causing mischief in an enchanted woods a few forests away from here...


  1. What a delightful post! Mmm I WANT some of that cake!! Looks almost as good as the organic sultana bran loaf that I made this very rainy day today
    ; ) And what a fabulous hut..great idea outside like that..doesn't have to nbe just for a rainy day. Hope the birthday time has been heaps of fun. Much love Katie xoxoxo

  2. While reading this post the memories of laundry day came floating back.

    As a child I would help my mother with the old round machine she had, cranking the handle of the ringer. Watching the clothes go into one cement trough for a rinse, then crank it again into the next trough for it's final rinse. I would then help hang them up on the Hills Hoist. The sheets were always my favourite as mum would fold them over the line double and I would play for hours running between the drying sheets as they went around and around.

    My girls also love to play in the drying clothes as your fella does. It's cubby heaven with the freshness of clean cloth, even better with a slice of cake.

    A lovely post, thanks for sharing.

  3. Gosh I remember making a hut just like that! Thank you for bringing back some wonderful memories. Nothing like watching the washing hanging on the line and blowing in the breeze and that fresh just washed and dried smell.

    Beautifully written.