Honoring the Power of the Sun

Denise - Austin, Texas
Entered on June 22, 2006

I believe in the eternal sunshine of the spotless laundry.

I sleep on sun-drenched sheets, wear sun-dried clothes and rub my hands on sun-kissed towels. I own a clothes dryer, but it’s plastered with dust.

Most mornings, I’m in the backyard by the live oak hanging wet dry goods on the clothesline. Birds serenade me. Breezes caress me. Butterflies visit me. I wouldn’t give up this gig if you paid me.

Hanging laundry the old-fashioned way is like gardening, except that you poke hands into sky instead of dirt. You get it started, and nature takes care of the rest. There are no roses or spicy peppers to enjoy in the end, but you get to feed your senses and carry a little secret sunshine wherever you go.

That lucky ol’ sun perfumes my laundry with the scent of fresh air. When I’m trapped inside a building all day, I catch a breath of nature’s fragrance in my clothes when I stretch or move about. Each time I smell that aroma, my mind’s eye sees clouds in a cornflower-blue sky or an expanse of green grass and trees.

Wearing sun-scented clothing is my way of bringing the outdoors indoors. But, believe it or not, sunshine is illegal for some people.

They live in subdivisions that have outlawed the sun, at least when it comes in contact with wet laundry. Apparently, group-think aesthetics equate clotheslines with — the horror! — open garage doors. Tacky, tacky, according to the New World Order in which Stepford Lives uniformity trumps free-spirited individualism.

Let’s air out this laundry debate.

An electric clothes dryer is one of the highest energy-users in a home, up there with the water heater and refrigerator. A dryer costs about $80 a year to operate, and the generation of the energy it consumes belches more than 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide into our air.

My clothesline carries on a tradition as ancient as the clothed human race. Most of us don’t really need an expensive, energy-sucking machine to do what the big star in our solar system has always done for free. Hanging laundry honors the power of the sun and reminds me of my tiny place in the universe.

Outdoors, some sort of photosynthesis of my psyche occurs. Just five minutes with my laundry line feeds my soul. I breathe deeper and slower and feel more relaxed. No wonder. It’s a totally organic exercise, a dance with a powerful life force 93 million miles away.

Solar energy is clean, cheap and available. At least, it’s available in neighborhoods that don’t have deed restrictions or covenants that prohibit hanging laundry. I’m surprised neighborhood associations haven’t outlawed kites. They are nothing more than pieces of fabric hanging off a line in the sky. Just like my laundry.

These neighborhood groups, full of Not in My Backyard vigilance, consider clothes on a line an eyesore that reduces property values. Why are sun-dried tomatoes coveted and sun-dried clothing not so much?

Each time I avoid the dryer, I’m making a little deposit in the energy bank for all the children in my life. Believing in clotheslines is believing in the future.