Birdsong and light in the mornings. Always the coo-COO-coo of the wood pigeon. The days are warmer, almost spring-like. Washing on an airer in the garden. The line, once strung between the shed & the dead cherry, hangs slack now that we’ve had the tree taken down. One of my favourite things: hanging out the washing in summer. Best that the machine finishes before the sun reaches over the houses. The line in light, bare legs in shade. That feeling of promise early on a summer’s day and the virtuousness of a line of washing in the sun. How a sheet whips taut in the breeze. My grandma’s line with its wooden line-prop. Lupins, mint, and pink cranesbill in the long border beside it.
The lines at the back of our flat in London: Edwardian maisonettes, a ground floor and a first floor, each with its own thin garden. We were upstairs but had to walk down the steps to reach our line. But the best upstairs lines were high above the gardens so that you could reach them from the back door on the first floor — a pulley system allowing the washing to be floated out above the garden & later hauled back in.
A moment in Helen Garner’s essay ‘Our Mother’s Flood 1’ about her mother’s Alzheimer’s Disease. A nurse in the home suggesting that they don’t say goodbye when they leave at the end of a visit: ‘It only upsets her. By the time you get to the lift she’s forgotten you’ve even been here. Sneak out. Believe me, it’s kinder.’
We were appalled by this suggestion. But one day, in the tense moment before parting, it occurred to me to say, ‘I’m just going out the back, Mum, to hang out the washing.’
Her agitation melted. She said pleasantly, ‘Got enough pegs?’
Yes, hanging the washing, I think that would work on me too.
On daffodil watch (top to bottom): Tête-à-Tête; Rip Van Winkle (tiny and dandelion-like); the buttery-white and yellow daffodils that fill the tiny front garden.