We put out our clothesline last week on a glorious spring day, 15 degrees Celsius, with a nice breeze. It was a grand day for clothes, as was said in our neighbourhoods when we were growing up in Newfoundland. Every woman loved a day when she could put the clothes on the line and they'd dry quickly. Any beautiful day you also heard, "This would have been a grand day on clothes." The women were sorry to miss such a great day for the washing.
We are the only ones in the neighbourhood making that comment now since we live in a different province. But there are other changes too. In our neighbourhood today, there are very few clotheslines and if there are any, they are small. Gone are the days when huge lines of clothes hung in the back yards, blowing in the breeze. Our line is one of those square umbrella clotheslines which can hold lots of clothes but just doesn't look right.
Long gone are the frozen clothes, brought from the line in winter, frozen into shape. I remember my grandfather's overalls, frozen stiff, hung from a line behind the stove in their kitchen. Now, we too are part of the clothes dryer society for six months, rather than brave the elements, hanging out and taking in frozen clothes.
Gone too are the conversations with the neighbours as you hang the clothes. Most of the women in the neighbourhood now are working outside their homes. There is no one in the area to speak with during the day. The sharing of family news and discussion of current events or gossip don't occur over the clothesline any more. Many people barely know their neighbours.
These days, we are the dinosaurs of the neighbourhood; the oldest people on the block, hanging out clothes, ready to talk to anyone who happens by...Oh, there's the letter carrier!
Besides, on those grand days here, the man of the house hangs out the clothes.