The Primal Satisfaction of a Simple Ritual
"It is the sweet, simple things of life which are the real ones after all."
- Laura Ingalls Wilder
This morning, I took our clothes out of the washing machine and began to hang them on the clotheslines outside the window of our fifth floor apartment. As I was leaning against the windowsill and securing each article of clothing to the line, I suddenly experienced an overwhelming feeling flood over me that I can only describe as primal. I know that may sound crazy and it wasn't something I expected to feel or tried to make happen. Heck, I was simply hanging our laundry out, something I had done several times before during our stay here. On previous occasions there was a peacefulness about it but this morning was different. For those few moments, I felt a deep sense of oneness and connection with people of all cultures, past and present, a sense of wholeness and harmony. I was part of a ritual that has been practiced for centuries all around the world and I felt, in those moments, a powerful feeling of unity with all women everywhere.
As weird as I may sound by now, I do not think I'm alone in the primal feelings, or at least a recognition, that can surface in response to this tradition. I'm not saying others have the same experience I did but many people are definitely drawn to the scene of clothes hanging on the line, whether outside of apartments or in a back yard. Have you ever noticed how many people photograph clothes hanging on clotheslines outside of windows all over the world? How often advertisers use the backyard clothesline scene, in particular, to generate good feelings in people? Even if people don't fully understand why they are drawn to take these photographs, they still take them. They keep taking them even though thousands of other photographers have already taken those type of pictures. That says something, in itself.
The scene of clothes on the clothesline is a recurrent image that speaks to people on some level, both those taking the photograph and those viewing it. Maybe it brings up feelings of being cared for, comfort, pleasure, safety, the familiarity of tradition; it is not always necessary to fully understand why we are drawn to something. Most often, it's the primal things that don't always make sense to our logical thinking but they are no less important because of this. I realize that some people may take those photographs simply because they are colorful scenes and it may possibly be a generational thing. I don't know. The only I know is my own experience this morning and the feeling that came over me. It was a beautiful thing to feel and it got me thinking more about it. And where better to put thoughts that on the journal page.
Here in Italy, and in many other parts of the world, they definitely have their act together in regard to clotheslines. They have three or four lines right outside one of their windows. What's great about this is you never have to carry a heavy laundry basket full of wet clothes out to the yard. You simply open the window and hang them out. Bringing them in later, or checking their level of dryness, is just as easy. And if it starts raining unexpectedly, you can bring them in very quickly, without getting wet yourself. A very smart setup. I am in a rental apartment so my lines here are simple and stationary. My neighbors, however, have lines with pulleys on each end so they can easily move them and have longer lines that stretch between two windows which is great for bedding or hanging out several loads at once. Wherever I end up living after our trip is over, I definitely want to have a setup at my home like they have here. Small, compact, and easily accessible right outside your window. Simple, and brilliant.
** Laura Ingalls Wilder (1867-1957), quoted above, was an American writer most known for her Little House on the Prairie series of children's novels based on her childhood.