Late October on the Line

My #1 technique for surviving reasonably sane in these bizarre, bewildering, and outrageous times is to relish as much as possible the small satisfactions of daily life, like walking with my dog, working on my novel, baking bread (and occasionally other stuff), and . . .

Doing laundry.

Lacking a washing machine, I do my laundry at the Airport Laundromat. It opens at 8 a.m. I get there not long after. Trav and I then take our morning walk around the county airport while my clothes wash. This invariably prompts at least one complete stranger to ask if Trav is a husky and when I say “Close — he’s a malamute” we get into a conversation about dogs, their dog(s), my dog, northern breed dogs in general. When Trav and I continue on our way, I feel somewhat encouraged about the state of the country.

Shorts and jeans together on the line

When Trav and I get back from our stroll, the washers have finished their work. I scoop the socks and undies into the smaller of my two canvas carryalls, the shirts, shorts, and jeans into the larger. We drive home. I hang the big stuff on the line and the socks and undies on a drying rack on my little deck.

Drying rack

I do not hang the wash out because I am a fresh-air freak or an environmentalist. If I had access to a dryer, I would probably use it at least some of the time. However, the dryers at the laundromat cost a quarter for a scant four minutes and it takes several quarters to dry even one load of light summer laundry. (1) I am cheap, and (2) I want to get on with my day.

My method of choice requires sunshine and, ideally, at least some breeze. Wind shortens drying time and so becomes more important as dark closes in on both ends of the day. It also takes care of wrinkles, but for me this is not a big deal: I do own an iron, but I don’t own any clothes that need ironing. This past Friday was a perfect laundry day: bright and breezy.

Quite a few of my T-shirts have something to do with the 2016 election and its aftermath.

As regular readers of this blog and my followers on Facebook know, I chart the seasons by what’s hanging on the laundry line. Early this past week, before the rain moved in, I was wearing shorts and a T-shirt most of the day; when the sun went down, I’d change into jeans and a long-sleeved T.

For late October there seemed to be an inordinate number of shorts and T-shirts on the line. A glance back through several years of laundry pictures, however, revealed a comparable number of Ts on the line in late October 2011. My own photographic record keeps me from claiming that this was the warmest October in memory.

Along with all the shorts and Ts there were several pairs of jeans, two turtlenecks, and a 3/4-sleeve henley. No sweaters or longjohns, however. I haven’t even taken my cold-weather clothes out of the closet. Nor have I turned the heat back on: I won’t do that till after I’ve closed the second of my two skylights and swapped the summer screen insert in my storm door for its cold-weather counterpart.

The Japanese maple outside my window is just beginning to think about turning color. Is it running late? That maple has its own folder on my laptop’s hard drive, and photos from previous years tell me that it doesn’t reach its spectacular peak red till the second or third week in November.

One of my newest T-shirts has just six letters on it:


It’s hanging upside down in the photo above, four shirts to the left of Trumpbusters. WTFJHT is the name of a daily e-newsletter I subscribe to: What the Fuck Just Happened Today. It accurately describes itself as “Today’s essential guide to the daily shock and awe in national politics” and I highly recommend it. However, I find it easier to retain balance and perspective if I keep myself grounded in the slower, more predictable changes of the natural world and the laundry line. I recommend that too.

About Susanna J. Sturgis

Susanna edits for a living, writes to survive, and has been preoccupied with electoral politics since 2016. She just started a blog about her vintage T-shirt collection: "The T-Shirt Chronicles." Her other blogs include "From the Seasonally Occupied Territories," about being a year-round resident of Martha's Vineyard, and "Write Through It," about writing, editing, and how to keep going.
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6 Responses to Late October on the Line

  1. What a fun post, Suzanna. Laundry is a good way to clear your mind, I agree. And drying clothes outside is almost a luxury nowadays. There are fewer places where it is possible. So enjoy! Love the letters on your T-shirts too 🙂


  2. Yeah…orange apparently doesn’t wash off…Good thing you have coping tools!


  3. Hal Davis says:

    I’ve been reading your laundry lines for years, and this one resonated:

    “relish as much as possible the small satisfactions of daily life, like . . .

    Doing laundry.”

    Each moment is meditative.


  4. Jennie says:

    The laundry line is definitely a good thing, and a far better focus. I love this time of year. It’s beautiful, exciting, and changing. It is a constant, and that feels good. I don’t like feeling unsettled, and these times make me feel that way. So, I savor the season and Mother Nature. Maybe a laundry line in the yard?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Right now there’s a wild wind blowing, but it’s warm enough that my front door is open. I love listening to the wind while I’m snug inside. For me a certain mindfulness goes into hanging laundry. Heavier jeans go at either end of the line, lighter T-shirts in the middle. I pay attention to what goes next to what: vary the lights and the darks; hang a muscle shirt I’ve had since the ’80s next to one from the 2014 ag fair next to a long-sleeve T that celebrates Alaskan malamutes. The decades of my life, at least the second half of it, together on the laundry line.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Jennie says:

        I love that story! Decades on the laundry line. Our power just came on after wild wind last night. I love watching the sky as the weather changes. Thanks, Susanna!


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