by Phyllis Bohonis
[dropcap]M[/dropcap]Mondays were always my favourite, Monday evenings that is and especially Monday evenings in winter.
I was reared in the pre-dryer era. The laundry was always hung outside, winter and summer. On Mondays, aka laundry days, after the supper dishes were cleared away and the patterned oilcloth on the kitchen table was carefully scrubbed, Mom would bring the clothes in through the clothesline door. Some of the bigger, heavier items were never completely dry, like flannelette sheets, bath towels and my dad’s long underwear. The smaller, already dry items were carefully folded as they were brought in, but my older sister, Louise, and I couldn’t keep ourselves from burying our noses in them while doing so. We took each article from Mom before they lost that cold, fresh aroma. The larger items were carefully laid on the table and kitchen counter, or draped over the chairs to finish drying. Some were even placed upright on the floor leaning against the stove and ice box. Louise and I always took great delight in waltzing Dad’s stiff-as-a-board, one-piece long underwear a time or two around the kitchen. We would invariably break out in fits of giggling before we leaned it up alongside the rest of the laundry.
However, it was never long before the laundry began to thaw and soften. The items for ironing had to be rolled and placed in the laundry basket, and then ironed before they dried completely. There was no such thing as a steam iron. A soda pop bottle wearing a lid with holes punched through it was utilized to dampen any articles too dry for ironing. We would sprinkle them, roll them, and place them in the basket as well.
On those evenings it was actually a treat to sit on the kitchen floor and do our homework. Our noses worked overtime luxuriating in the fragrance of the fresh laundry. Going to bed on any other night was not quite the experience it was on laundry day. Sliding into our flannelette nightgowns was something that now, decades later, can only be described as a “comfort smell”. What greater delight was there also, than snuggling under the fragrance of freshly laundered sheets that had dried outside? Pure heaven.
The manufacturers of laundry products today, spend millions of dollars attempting to emulate the “fresh as all outdoors” fragrance of the laundry of a bygone era. My mother had no assistance from softeners and fragrant liquid additives. Her only assistants were laundry soap and Mother Nature herself. I’ll never know how freezing and thawing can enhance the fragrance of laundry, but that scent of fresh-washed clothes hovered for several days inside the house.
Over my lifespan I’ve enjoyed many kinds of favourites, but none that can compare to my favourite childhood memory – those crisp, cold winter Mondays.
Such a simple memory but one that I have experienced over and over again. I don’t think there is anything that puts a smile on my face quicker than a line full of clothes billowing in the wind. So sad that some communities ban outside clotheslines. Not only are they a hydro saver but they’re cheerful sight. I love the commercials for Newfoundland we see regularly on television. The one that draws me is the one with the laundry on the line.
Think about a simple childhood recollection that puts a smile on your face just thinking about it. Jot it down and write a paragraph about it for the youngsters in your family to enjoy. Need help? Drop me a line. Phyllis@richmondhub.ca