Friday, March 18, 2011

Hanging Out to Dry

John 3:8 - The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.

Last week, a dear friend e-mailed me a list of some eco-friendly things one could do for Lent. As my husband, Danny, is a regional director for Energy Star, we already engage in many of the suggested activities: using LED or compact-florescent lights; composting; recycling paper, plastic, and cans; using cloth shopping bags and cloth, instead of paper, napkins; installing occupancy sensors; sealing air ducts; insulating the attic, and, my all-time favorite, drying clothes outside. The latter activity is always the one that evokes hor
rified gasps of disbelief from his audience when Danny gives presentations on energy efficiency. They are literally shocked at the notion of anyone hanging out clothes, especially in winter, when dryers are so handy and accessible.

Danny explains that dryers are basically motors and motors use energy; there is no such creature as an Energy Star dryer! We pay for the electricity our dryers use, but the sun and wind are free for the taking. When someone protests that their homeowner's association doesn't permit clotheslines, Danny urges them to go to the board and argue the facts: energy costs will continue to escalate, crunching families' precarious budgets even further; energy that is free is the sensible alternative.

While the practical advantages of hanging clothes outdoors are manifold, I find the aesthetic aspects even more appealing. Nothing beats snuggling in bed between sheets that have been dried outside; their soothing fragrance and softness reminds me of lying on cool, green grass in the early spring sunshine. When I open my wardrobe to dress in the morning, I am greeted by that same comforting scent. I even relish the rough texture of our towels; being dried on the line, they absorb moisture more readily and stay smelling fresh longer.

For those of you doubting the lure of the clothesline at this juncture, allow me to address some questions others have asked me in the past.
  • Aren't your jeans too stiff? Yes, at first, but they soften up within ten minutes of wearing.
  • Don't your clothes wrinkle? No, especially on a breezy day; it blows the wrinkles right out (wish it would do that for my face!).
  • Is summer the best time to hang laundry outside? Not if you live below the Mason-Dixon line. You can dry clothes outside anytime unless it is a) raining, or b) below freezing.
  • Aren't you self-conscious about drying, er, you know, your intimates outdoors for all to see? Not an issue for me as our backyard is secluded. You can always hang underwear, etc. indoors on a wooden rack.
  • Isn't hanging up and taking down clothes from the line an extra chore? It is, if you choose to look at it that way, but if I threw my clothes in the dryer, I'd miss out on the mesmerizing show I call "Clothes with the Wind".
I don't care if it's full sun, partly cloudy, or mostly cloudy. If there is a stiff, consistent breeze, my clothes will dry in half the anticipated time. That's not the best part, though. What I adore is watching the wind whipping the napkins like so many frantic flags, lifting the sheets until they hover horizontally, cracking and snapping like a flustered sail, tossing the t-shirts manically up and over the line. I can "see" the wind in the shifting, shuddering dance of the clothes; I can hear it when it slaps the sheets or snaps the napkins. In this witness, I am always reminded of the presence of the Holy Spirit in my life, sent first by God as promised through Christ to the disciples as a mighty, rushing wind. He tells me that when I, like my clothes, am feeling "hung out to dry", He is here with me, working through me, renewing my strength, reviving my soul.

How do you see, hear and feel the Holy Spirit, our Comforter, in your life at this moment? Whether it is in a roaring wind or a whispered breath, know He is always there with you.


  1. Ok I'm trying again to leave a comment. I just thought it funny that the first thing I read on your blog has to do with hanging your laundry out to dry. I hang mine out all the time as long as the weather is dry and not to cold.I love being out there hanging it first of all, enjoying the sun on my body as I do it. I also long the smell of cloths hung outside, especially the sheets on my bed when I climb in after a long day. I think I fall asleep easier on them.I usually fold them as I take them down out there so It's actually easier then just pulling them from a dryer then going and folding and putting them away.I usually have a bird friend talking to me as I do my laundry, I call her Ma cause that's what it sounds like she is calling to me,lol.She has gotten closer over the years and I enjoy it. Thanks for making me think about it, it's been awhile with all this cold weather up here but Spring is here and I look forward to seeing my old friend MAa again soon. Truely a gift from God.

  2. Thank you, Gina, for becoming a follower and for your wonderful description of your experience with hanging out the wash. Ma sounds like an awesome companion, too. I've fed the birds here for several years now, but have yet to be graced with a friendship like yours. Yes, she is a gift from God!
    Hope you'll continue to enjoy my blog and I will look forward to your comments in the future. Blessings to you!


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