Wash Day

T220px-Prayerflagshis past weekend I walked over to our neighborhood shopping center to pick up a loaf of bread. My route takes me past a neighborhood where the back yards of the houses face the street on which I walk. I noticed in one of the backyards what I immediately thought was a line of Tibetan prayer flags …. you know, those colorful flags often displayed in a row on porches by people who are neither Tibetan nor pray-ers. But they are pretty.

Except that these were not, as it turned out upon closer inspection, Tibetan prayer flags. They were, in fact, cloth diapers hanging on a clothes line. My sincere apologies to the Dalai Lama, who I’m pretty sure reads this blog. Once in a while I see a hit from Tibet. I’m not kidding. I really do. I envision some Buddhist monk high in the Himalyas with a computer googling the word whimsies in a search for a new kind of prayer and stumbling upon the blog of this humble writer.

Anyhoo, my confusion can be explained because there really is a house in our neighborhood in Denver that has a back yard facing the street down which I drive a thousand times a week that has what really are Tibetan prayer flags lining their patio. In fact, they get on Kaiya’s last nerve. The first time she noticed them, she was excited to point out that “those people are getting ready for a party.” But as the days, weeks, and months went by and they are still there, her patience is getting frayed. No party. Take down the damn party flags, People!

But back to the diapers. I started wondering when was the last time I saw diapers hanging on a clothesline, and realized that it was probably 35 years ago when Court was a baby and we hung his diapers on our clothesline. You see, it was 1980 and we were holdouts in the Age of the Disposable Diaper. It wasn’t that we were environmentalists worried about landfills full of disposable diapers. We were simply broke. I was using my journalism degree to be a secretary. Court’s father had a degree in psychology and was using it to eke out a living working at a home for developmentally disabled adults. Neither salary was conducive to frivolous expenses like toss-away diapers.

We rented the top unit in an up-and-down duplex, and access to a washer and dryer was included. But there was also a clothesline in the backyard, and so I would almost always – even in the winter months – hang the diapers (and other clothes) on the clothesline. That’s what my mother did; that’s what I did. The sun, she used to say, sterilized the diapers. That is likely a fact. But the other thing it did was make the diapers and other items stiff as a board. Seriously, you could practically stand them up. A good shaking left the diapers foldable, but you can imagine how soft and fluffy they WEREN’T. It’s a wonder Court isn’t an axe murderer. Poor Bud.

Still, years later when Court and I lived in our little house in Denver, there was a clothesline in the back yard. Though I had a dryer, I very often hung clothes on the clothesline instead of firing up the dryer, which was located in the back breezeway. And I wasn’t the only one who felt that way. Our neighbor often asked if she could use the clothes line to dry her clothes if I wasn’t already using it. Stiff or not, it really does make the clothes smell fresh and well, outdoorsy.

Arles Laundry

Clothes hanging to dry outside an apartment in Arles, France.

There is simply something so pleasant about seeing clean laundry flapping in the breeze while hanging out to dry. I used to love seeing the clothes hanging from the windows in France and Italy during our various travels.

So the bottom line is I can understand why the person had the diapers hanging from the clothesline here in Mesa. But I still don’t understand the Tibetan prayer flags in Denver. When’s the party finally going to take place?

This post linked to the GRAND Social

3 thoughts on “Wash Day

  1. I haven’t had a clothesline for years but I often dry my pillow cases on my patio when I wash bed sheets so I get that wonderful fresh smell when I go to bed.
    And if the Tibetan monk reads this comment; hey, nice to meet you and please pray for me!

  2. Cloth diapers…you can’t even find those here in New England. I also used cloth diapers in the late 80’s, early 90’s for the same reasons as you did….to save money. It was kind of hip then…it would be called “green” today. They were a lot more work than disposals but I seemed to have more energy back then.

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