Friday, July 18, 2008

As For Me, It's About Aesthetics

I find clotheslines full of laundry aesthetically pleasing. I like the springy way t-shirts and blouses wheeze in and out with the wind. I like seeing summer frocks blowing gently in hot air. I like the way autumnal winds bluster and whip sheets and towels into a frenzy. I like the way blankets hang half frozen in the wintertime. Unfortunately, these scenes of domesticated loveliness are hard to find nowadays.

Recently, a commentator on National Public Radio informed me that 60 million Americans live where clotheslines are banned by neighborhood covenants. Cities, towns and even whole states have made backyard clotheslines against the law. The main reason cited is aesthetics; clotheslines bring the property values down.

So we are no longer able to hang a clothesline in our own backyard? I say to that, hogwash! Legislation against clotheslines has immobilized grassroots groups who have formed their own Right to Dry Movement. Unfortunately, I find their whole argument extremely funny in a sad, sad way. The Right to Dry people are all about saving the environment by the disuse of tumble dryers. They tout the benefits of Low Tech Solar Dryers on global warming. They see the use of clotheslines as a small way to do their part for saving the planet.

What the Right to Dry people don't seem to understand is that it is probably their very own politically correct agenda that has brought America to this point. We Americans are no longer allowed to state our personal opinions if they don't mesh with the opinions of the masses. We don't want to disenfranchise anyone. We don't want to allow any differences in our society. We are offended by the sight of our neighbor's underwear flapping in the wind.

See where it more stupid a ridiculously scary "Big Brother Is Watching" society.

As for me, I love the sight of fresh laundry on the clothesline. It's about aesthetics. And as we all know, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Photos curtsy of Flickr and Google Images


  1. Actually, when I lived in a condo outside Washington DC, I got myself in big trouble. We came home from the pool and I took my wet towels out on the balcony to drip dry for an hour. The association freaked. A snooty woman told me that I acted like I was from West Virginia or something. I tried to be a good person, but didn't I go and step on toes when I hung a birdfeeder up. Attracts rats, they told me. I lived on the top floor.

  2. Don't you remember way back when most backyards were equipped with permanent laundry line poles? And hiding behind damp sheets, blowing in the breeze?

  3. Debby - sounds like you had some lovely neighbors! Yipes! Stevie- I love your words and the wonderful pictures of laundry. Who knew laundry could be so poetic. I love the smell of freshly dried clothes with the sunshine still in them.
    Do you remember bluing? Mom used it when she rinsed the whites in those giant laundry tubs to make the sheets look whiter.Those laundry tubs may not have been so giant sized - I think I was just very small at the time.

  4. This was a really nice essay, Steviewren! I hung large pieces of laundry outside until a storm damaged the tree we had the line attached to, and the tree had to be cut down.
    I miss the smell of sun drenched sheets!

  5. My mom always hung cloths on the blue jeans would be so stiff that it took all of Monday and 1/2 of Tuesday to loosen them up!

  6. My mother taught me to hang laundry when i could barely reach the clothesline - it was like an art project. Everything had to be in a certain order - towels, hand towels, washcloths - they couldn't clash, and if you missed a hand towel, for instance, you had to take down all the washcloths to put it in - sounds awful, but was kind of fun and ended up looking - well... NICE!

  7. thank you, thank you, thank you for posting this. we live in one of THOSE neighborhoods and it makes me so sad to not be able to have a clothesline. i am such a total country girl at heart. to get around the lack of a clothesline, i have two wooden drying racks which i place on my back patio on sunny days. plus i use them indoors all winter long. love your sentiment and photos!!

  8. I actually laughed out loud about the neighbors laundry!!!!
    I think your post should be published for the masses to read. It is one of my favorite posts, actaully it is my favorite.
    I do remember we had a clothesline when I was young, everyone did.
    Does anyone remember the stray bee that would sometimes end up on a piece of clothing. Ah, the good ole days!

  9. Isn't it silly that someone gets to tell us how we dry our laundry? Laughable! I do love your photos though Stevie.

  10. I love your second last photo. That could be a Tide advertisement. "Keep your brights bright!"

    I too think there is something so charming about clothes drying on the line. I have a clothesline in my backyard but to be honest, the only thing I like to dry on it is bedsheets. Maybe its the air here, but everything else dries too stiff on the line, so my dryer is kept pretty busy all year.

    But, I do think its ludicrous to ban clotheslines.

  11. Debby, we did something similar on vacation once. We were tossing food, from our 8th floor balcony, up to sea gulls who were catching and eating it in flight. We were promptly informed that this was against the condo rules...the reason...the gulls would poop on the pool which they were hovering over.....I guess I can see their point on this one.

    Willow, yes, yes, hide and seek in the backyard, behind the sheets.

    Museswings, "the smell of freshly dried clothes with the sunshine still in them" ... that phrase has sweet memories tucked into it.

    Pat, I haven't had a clothesline since shortly after moving into my present home 20 years ago. There was too much shade and having to haul baskets of wet sheets and jeans up a flight of stairs from the basement to the backyard was too much trouble. I still miss the line I had at my old home. Hubby rigged it up from back porch to carport. All I had to do was to hang and push the line out into the sunshine.

    Strider, poor you in those stiff jeans! That is one thing the dryer does very more stiff pants. Actually, I dried hubby's jeans outside and then popped them into the dryer for 5 minutes to soften them.

    Rosezilla, your mother is a woman after my own heart. I arrange my Fiestaware in my kitchen cabinet in the same way. Pretty to look at, just like your childhood wash lines.

    Julie, you have my sympathy, I have always thought neighborhood associations were anal and nosy. This confirms my suspicions.

    Denise, yes, bees and the occasional spot of bird poop on the sheets...ugh...

    Robyn, yes it is silly. I wish I could take credit for the photos but I really haven't seen clothes on a line in years...except in Amish country, where I remember being obsessed with the idea of getting close enough to photograph....but I never did. Sad.

  12. Hi Lavinia, you slipped in while I was busy typing! Try putting your line dried laundry in the dryer for 5 minutes. This softens them right up.

  13. Oh man, I TOTALLY agree with you! We live in an area where it would be frowned upon to have clotheslines in your yard--I don't know if there are laws about it here or not, but you NEVER see them, and I have fond,nostalgic memories of them and love 'em! I hear you! Interesting...

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  15. I love clotheslines, too. I am glad I live in a neighborhood without covenants. I love my "New York" style clothesline. I think TJ used to play with it when he would come over. He loved to pull the line in and out. I love the smell of especially sheets line dried. My kids grew up on that, but they don't like the smell. Go figure!

  16. Here in Ontario, Canada, many cities had a bylaw which banned clotheslines. Mine included. Earlier this year though, that was turned around, and clotheslines are now indeed allowed again. In this day of trying to save energy, it would be wrong to not allow it. Wonderful post, Steviewren

  17. Hi, a brush with color, I'm glad my post hit a note with you.

    Pammie, I can just see TJ now...didn't drive you nuts did he? : ) A NY style line is what we used to have...loved it.

    Hilary, yea for your city. As far as I know there are no restrictions placed by either my city or state even so, I don't see laundry hanging out anymore. Sad. Maybe that will change in your area.

  18. Thanks for the suggestion...I am going to give it a try....may cut down my electrical bills...

  19. I'm so glad I went back to look at a few post...I too love clotheslines....but have no room for one in my garden/pool area....There is something nostalgic about them for me...When my children were younger this was our only way to dry clothes...I hung many a diaper out to dry in those days. At the mention of clothesline, I see family, caring and memories as each piece is placed on the line. I suppose it's a woman thing...When we move back to the Carolinas, a clothesline will most definitely be a "must have"...I will make sure of it :) I loved this post...

  20. I totally agree with you on the clothesline thing and am SHOCKED to find out that some cities ban hanging your clothes out to dry!!

    I love all your clothesline shots and am going to go and try to find some clotheslines to shoot in my area.


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