Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Laundry on the Line

I grew up in a family of women who hung their laundry out to dry. My grandmother had lines and pulleys out her Brooklyn brownstone windows and my mother had long lines besides varied turning ones my father constructed for her in our backyards. The first time I saw Old Farm, I envisioned a long clothes line running along the property edge in full sun which would dry and brighten the many sheets, beach towels and clothes that may be used here. (I also envisioned a large compost pile behind the garden shed, most importantly, and both were installed as soon as weather permitted after we actually purchased this place.)

It was easy to make clothes line supports from sticks of left over lumber and I hammered two roofing nails with large heads into the tops to trap the clothes line since it can be quite windy on the Cape. The laundry line vision included anchoring a long line from the garage top to a utility pole, which could be tightened over time. Two loads of laundry can be dried here on a sunny day...and beach towels always.

Scandinavians hang their laundry out as long as possible; sometimes in the attic in winter, and in pens behind apartments where we would usually park a car. The below is part of a large picture taken by a photography student who did a series of my laundry on the line in Hopewell (while we were restoring the house), and surprised me with this print and note on my porch one day!

Hanging laundry is a great way to be greener since clothes driers use most household electrical energy and wear fabrics out faster besides. It takes little time to coordinate with the weather and hang a load before work I found. Alex brings his laundry from Boston to do at Old Farm and Christian, Leif and their roomates share my wooden clothes drying racks to use in their apartment exclusively.

Remembering Roots

As our family works together to restore Old Farm, I am remembering my own family roots and how they seem to be a part of this scheme? This has been a reflective project I think and my mother has recently given me pictures of my Norwegian grandparents who influenced me in lovely ways. My grandfather was the only one of nine children in his sheep farming family, to immigrate to the USA. He was "most smart" I was told in that he was the fastest sock knitter in the family who could also rock a cradle with his foot and read his homework all at the same time. He was a big man with big hands (which also played the fiddle) - and handsome features like my grandmother. They bought a brownstone in the Norwegian section of Brooklyn and he worked as a construction carpenter in NYC most of his life. My grandmother ran the house and made her own bread and patterns for dresses my mother and aunt wore for special occasions. Her kitchen was full of white and gray painted furniture and her small garden had large blue hydrangea bushes which bloomed under long lines of clothes and sheets drying.
My grandfather told me about special painting techniques he used occasionally, like rolling a suede cloth up a wall of thinned contrasting paint to create a unique pattern. He also helped my father build both of the houses we lived in growing up while my grandmother cleaned them thoroughly every time she visited. I still have the socks that my grandfather knit for me and the sweater his sister taught me how to knit.

These are my lovely memories of them.

Here are my older sister and I in dresses my mother made for us, continuing a tradition of making special dresses and women sewing for their families.

1 comment:

  1. crisp percale in the breeze-snap and fold-spread the bed singing