...wandered all the way to Thursday. Nicole of Gardenmama did a great weekly blog thing called Wash Wednesday where folks sent in their pictures of and their reflections on the many facets of the clothesline. I kept wanting to participate, but 1) it was raining all the time, and 2) I hadn't put up the clothesline. So it seems fitting that my first entry for her new weekly blog thingy is the wash. Check out Wandering Wednesday on Nicole's blog. It is such a lovely, lovely blog. When I visit I find myself wandering through the archives. Anyway, here goes!
.:Wandering Wednesday 1:. [I'm even going to copy here pretty punctuation. I'm also going to try to keep these entries pithy...yeah right.]
Here I stand at the clothesline. While I waited for the rain to stop, I researched online about putting up clotheslines, and when the sun came out, it still wasn't up. Finally I bought a hank of clothesline and a box of bamboo clothespins at Fred Meyer. It strung a line from the porch to the big apple tree, and from the big apple tree to the cherry tree. It isn't even taut. But it's perfect. Sometimes things don't have to be perfect to be perfect.
I would love to fashion a pretty clothespin holder. They're important to have, if you hang washing regularly. It does take more time than throwing clothes in the dryer. But if you have a pin bag, there's less bending and grappling. The process becomes smooth and efficient. My impromptu bag was made in the same way I made a storage and drying bag for Jane's bath things. We buy lemons, onions, and potatoes in big bags from Costco. And when grandmas go to Carters, we end up with baby clothes hangers. While both these items are disposable, I know they must be useful for something. I can't bear to get rid of them, like egg cartons. Sure enough, so far I've found several uses. It may not be handsome, but I feel more satisfaction than I would if I had made a pretty pin bag because it was cheap, quick, and gets more mileage out of something that won't biodegrade for a few thousand years.
I can't really explain why I find hanging the wash and taking it down, fresh and crisp, from the line. When you hang each item, you treat it with a respect you don't usually show your clothes. I find myself appreciative of each garment, even if it's not one I particularly like. I see their value. I see they are colorful. I see that I have a bounty of possessions, which is both humbling and cheerful. And there's nothing quite so charming and satisfying as seeing the laundry waving on the line, like domestic prayer flags. There's an element of both reverence and celebration.
Another element of the pleasure I take in my clothesline is its location. It is on the east side of the house, between the studio windows and the garden. I've written before about how magical this area is to me (how different it looked in April!). You probably wouldn't think so at a glance, but I wander here often. There are neglected snap pea plants in the garden.
I tramp through the weeds and pick them, look for strawberries and raspberries growing almost wild, neglected for many years and hard to find. The green italian prunes are hiding among the leaves. The little old apple is heavy with fruit. There are grape vines, old roses, mock orange bushes, a madrone, hidden rhodies and azaleas, and a host of other plants I can't identify tucked into this little area. If I were a little younger, I would be sure that fairies and other magical creatures lived there.
I've never in my life lived so in touch with the natural world as I am able to now as a mother at home. We spend some part of every day outside, mostly in our own yard, and visit the same spots to see how the many seasons within the season have transformed our kingdom. The tall, tall green grass of several weeks ago (seven feet tall at least) is golden, purple, dry and bending.
It shakes like a million tiny maracas in the wind. The vetches too, little legumes that they are, have formed their little beans, and on most of the vines they have turned black over the past few weeks. When I went out yesterday to hang the wash I heard a strange ambient sound. I took a moment to locate. It made me think of pop rocks, or clicking insects. The vetch pods--how many there must be on this acre!!--are bursting to release their seeds. The pod pictured here is about the length of my pinky nail. Mind you, I have long fingers and toes (see photo 1).
When I solved the mystery of the popping vetch pods, I wandered out to the road along the front of our property. I had seen some blackberries there on the way back from a walk with Jane, but serious blackberry picking is not for toddlers. It's the smaller sort of bush, entwined with another woody bush. Have you picked many blackberries? Yes? Oh good. No? That's a shame! There are a few things you need to know. Roadsides are a great place to find them, but be sure they aren't sprayed by road maintenance. Really juicy blackberries don't wash well...if they even make it to the sink. Also, they stain big time. The upshot of this is your purple fingers will wear the most heavenly sweet perfume for a few hours. Before you gracefully plunge your hand into the bush (think of the way you wove speedily through the slowpokes at the end of church service as a child, if you did) observe which blackberries look very black, plump and large. Go for those first. If you begin pulling on berries which are not totally ripe, the decadent ones will all fall through the thorns to the ground, and your instant reaction will be to jerk your hand to catch them and you'll get stabbed. Blackberry thorns can leave welts or cut your arms. I remember my dad coming home with his face bleeding after his annual blackberry taming chores. With his sleeves rolled up, carrying a machete and wearing a hat like Indiana Jones. Aw. Love my dad. You must be sure to carry some sort of bucket or basket as well, or they will roll out of your hand as you greedily pick and pick. Lastly, whatever you must do to get to the blackberries is worth it. If you have only eaten blackberries from the store, you have not eaten blackberries. I'm not trying to be a snob, just trust me on this one. If you are already an avid blackberry picker and you know of a secret spot, email me, yo. Come mid-August I will be donning my leather gloves and heavy jacket to cut through the hundreds of nettles currently separating me from my blackberry patches, which are currently full of bees buzz buzzing. In the meantime, we'll be making do on the roadsides.
Happy summer wandering to you!! (So much for being brief. Also, I'm not proofing this. Things to do, cookies to bake!)