Thursday, October 29, 2020

Cold-weather clothesline

Every time I pin laundry to the clothesline, I think of my mom. 

While I have memories of the T-posts in my childhood backyard, I more often recall my mom's stories of earlier times. How the more experienced neighbors in Texas surveyed the sky and told newlywed her that she had just enough time for the laundry to dry before the storm on the horizon rolled in. How she'd carry baby me in the basket with the laundry. How I, as a sleepy toddler, would stand beneath the clothesline, clinging to my special naptime blanket. How the cloth diapers would freeze stiff on the line when she hung them out in winter, and she'd know they were dry when they finally started flapping free in the wind.

It's this wintertime laundry story I was thinking of when we hung clothes out yesterday morning. Snow had fallen two mornings in a row here, but the latest forecast was mostly sunny, high in the low 50s. It wasn't cold enough for the damp fabric to freeze, just cold enough in the morning to numb my fingers. 

A hot, sunny, windy day makes for the best line drying, of course. But the anecdotal evidence suggests line-drying is still possible in less-than-perfect conditions. On cool, cloudy days, I've learned to make adjustments, like pinning the shirts' sleeves out a bit so the armpit section gets full air circulation -- this is the part of the shirt that otherwise remains damp longest. If you don't have the heat or the sun, wind is even more important. And, you especially need time.

I got to wondering. At what point in the colder season does it stop being worth it to dry laundry outdoors?

Humidity is a key factor. A dry winter's day with plenty of sunshine and wind -- bundle up and get out there! Maybe I'll experiment by hanging just one towel in January to see how long it takes.

Your own comfort level is another factor. I can stand to brave a merely freezing day to keep from using the gas dryer. Maybe I'll wimp out when the temperature dips into the low 20s. 

Definitely I'll wimp out at sub-zero.

No comments:

Post a Comment