Friday, September 11, 2009


I used to be in a writing group with Lynne. One day she was reading a piece about clean sheets and how good they smell when they've been dried outside, on a clothesline.
"Wait," I said. "Is that how they get that smell?"
I'd been wondering why, all these years, my sheets never smelled fresh and new after a washing like they did when I was a child. It was one of those fleeting mysteries of childhood; a moment I tried to re-create every time I washed my sheets, but it always fell flat. Somehow, my sheets never smelled the same as I remembered. I used the same laundry detergent my mother did. I used the same dryer sheets. Still nothing.
I dry my sheets in a dryer. I dry all my laundry in a dryer. Hanging clothes on the line was one of my most dreaded chores. I didn't mind taking the clothes off the line so much, because it went much quicker. But hanging them up? No thank you. I served an LDS mission to The Netherlands. No dryers. We hung our clothes on racks in our apartments. When they dried, my clothes were hard and stiff. I couldn't wait to use a dryer again. I love when my clothes come out of the dryer, soft and still warm.
But I'd give anything for my sheets to smell like they did when my mother washed them.
We've moved to Wyoming.
It is different here.
The houses are older. There are mature trees. We have a clothesline in our backyard.
After I washed our sheets, I hung them out there to dry. The clothespins were cracked and sun-bleached. The air moved like a whisper around me, barely a breeze. I pinned some of the worries I've carried for a long time up there with those sheets. I didn't take them down again.
When I slept that night my bed smelled like earth and sunshine. I breathed deep and felt almost young again.


Lynne's Somewhat Invented Life said...

So, you are actually in a house. With a clothes line. And sun-bleached clothes pins where you hung your worries! I'm so glad to know all this. I've been missing you and wondering and wondering what has happened. This piece is wonderful. As usual.

Here's how to get paragraph breaks when Blogger is naughty and won't make them. Go to HTML and AFTER all the HTML stuff, just before your new paragraph starts, just hit enter. You should have a break.

Do you like it there? Do the kids go to school with their dad? How is that short person, is he growing, is he cuter--how could that be possible?!

Ann said...

Beautiful piece. Don't waste your talent on air guitar.

Shawn said...

Good writing, my dear...

I personally don't like the smell of clothing and sheets dried outside---the cotton starts to smell too stale. I like my dryer.

Ratchfords said...

Wyoming?! Girl, you guys move as often as we do - are you in the witness protection program, too?

Julia Hendron said...

wow, that gave me arm tingles... we had a clothesline once in California... I tried it a few times... I think dryers are made for kids with allergies - less sneezing.
Once I hung some sheets and towels out to dry and the kids and I walked (strollered) to the neighborhood pool. Upon our return, I realized I'd lock us all out of the house... oops. The kids were cold and wet and TIRED! I just took down those (dry) sheets and towels and wrapped my babies up and we layed out on the concrete and went to sleep until Daddy came home and opened the door. Thanks for triggering a sweet memory :)

Damama T said...

I remember that smell. But even hanging mine outside doesn't reproduce it. I just end up with hard, scratchy sheet-sized sandpaper. Maybe that's because my back yard is mostly concrete with a cement pond? Who knows. but thank you for taking me back to a place where the sheets were heavenly.