Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Laundry weather

Today has been the sunniest, warmest day of the year so far. The patio was positively baking - perfect weather for hanging out the laundry, especially as there was a slight breeze blowing. Not the kind of day that I wanted to spend hanging around the house loading and unloading the washing machine.

Most of the western world is accustomed to being able to access (relatively cheap) concentrated forms of energy at the flick of a switch. Whilst line-drying is 'normal' in the UK, most of us never really have to arrange our lives around the intermittent availablity of energy or the passage of day or night. We can choose to do all of our work at night thanks to 24 hour electric lighting, we can dry our laundry whenever we want thanks to radiators and tumble dryers. Hot water increasingly comes from on-demand boilers. Any physical commodity we need can be produced far away and transported to us quickly over long distances with little effort on our part. I can't see this happy state of affairs continuing for much longer. Certainly in the short term I think we will see energy shortfalls that will force us to rearrange our lives around an intermittent energy supply and resource constraints. We will have to consider what use we want to put the energy and resources we do have to - and we will start to look at 'ambient' energy - the warmth of the sun, daylight hours - as an actual resource to work with.

As it turned out, I managed to get two full loads of laundry washed and dried. It smells lush - that faintly burnt but fresh scent that cotton sheets take on when they have been hanging out in the sun. It also gave me the opportunity to use the peg bag I have been crocheting for the past few evenings out of the ends of last years balls of dishcloth cotton. Every year I seem to buy new pegs as the old ones gradually go astray or I leave them on the line to get mildewy, rusty or brittle. Last week I bought some new wooden ones and vowed they would see me through more than one year of laundry hanging. Their new home is a little garish, but sturdy. I saved money, enjoyed some quiet crochet (and ensuing sense of accomplishment - small things, I know) - and, I hope, saved my pegs to see another summer.


  1. I think one of the best days of the year is the one when I first hang out the washing to dry. I can sometimes be a little over optomistic and have frequently brought in frozen sheets! But you are right, we have far too much dependency on 24/7 utilities. I do have a tumble dryer but even in winter it is my dryer of last resort. The rhthym of the seasons and the planning of the day accordingly is something that I love and keeps me grounded.

  2. We can get away with the odd load of line dried laundry during the winter months, but inevitably stuff gets put on radiators. It isn't the same however; and come spring I love washing all of our linens and towels and things and drying them outdoors.


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