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.