My dryer is not working so I’ve turned our upstairs bath into a makeshift dryer. Everyday I hang a new load of laundry on towel and shower curtain rods, and on the shower head and caddy. With the sun streaming through the west window, the little room quickly becomes saturated with the lovely scent of clean laundry.
As I’ve hung clothes this week, I’ve thought of those old clothes lines that use to be a staple in every backyard, long before backyards became outdoor entertaining spaces. When we redid our backyard a year ago, we created a small utility area to hold my compost tumbler and two large trash cans. I expressed hope of making room for a small clothes line as well…. but my husband couldn’t imagine how this would mesh with our landscaping plan. Remembering my granny’s clothes line full of sheets and towels and unmentionables flapping in the wind, I thought it might fit in quite nice, as I am planting a cottage garden rather than one more formal.
My next door neighbor still has one of his vintage clothes line poles. The big letter ‘T” hangs out near our shared fence and I wonder where its twin has gone. My daughter Kara’s backyard may also have just one clothes line pole. I wish I could put one and one together and marry them with wire for use in my own backyard. Then I could once again sleep on crisp white sheets, bleached by the sun, full of that special scent that can only be described as line-dried sheets. I fear at least half of North America would not know this smell if it hit them in the face, because unlike me, they’ve never had the pleasure of being near sheets, anchored by clothes pins, flapping them in the face. An Oklahoma wind doesn’t always play nice, and rarely does it tumble gently.
These words about laundry remind me of a Kathleen Norris book I read six years ago – “The Quotidian Mysteries – Laundry, Liturgy and “Women’s Work.”” My friend Kathy, who once titled herself, the “diva of the dishwasher,” could write words worth reading if she were so inclined, like this other Kathy whose book she gave me.
I would like to be a ‘diva of the dryer,’ but the repair shop cannot tell me when my part will be in. Even in this day of high technology and instant communication, some things remain mysterious. Is this a quotidian mystery as well? To answer, I must pull out my partially chewed up Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, Tenth Edition, which is now a little lighter for the hunk Max took off the corner last Sunday. And there it is:
“Quotidian: occurring every day; belonging to every day, commonplace, ordinary.”
No wonder I am pulled toward reading this old friend again. Ms. Norris’ everyday mysteries and my own everyday stories make me think of two clothes poles in two separate yards. What kind of laundry connects them, if any? And how in the world could an un-everyday word like quotidian mean everyday? It is a word worth hanging onto, as I hang our freshly washed laundry on my makeshift clothes lines and wait for the quotidian mystery of a dryer part to show itself.