Saturday, January 23, 2010

Is the Clothesline an Aesthetic Affront?

Are the local aesthetic police afraid of this?

It turns out that in some localities, hanging out the laundry in the backyard is forbidden by local ordinances.

For instance, according to Reuters wire of November 18, 2009, in Perkasie, Pennsylvania:
Carin Froehlich pegs her laundry to three clotheslines strung between trees outside her 18th-century farmhouse, knowing that her actions annoy local officials who have asked her to stop.... Although there are no formal laws in this southeast Pennsylvania town against drying laundry outside, a town official called Froehlich to ask her to stop drying clothes in the sun. And she received two anonymous notes from neighbors saying they did not want to see her underwear flapping about. "They said it made the place look like trailer trash," she said, in her yard across the street from a row of neat, suburban houses. "They said they didn't want to look at my 'unmentionables.'"
Or for instance, I was shocked to learn that in my own suburban community in Northern Virginia, hanging laundry outside is prohibited even in one's own yard. Prohibiting open air laundry drying seems to fly in the face of the need for energy saving and the romance of laundry.

Here are some reasons to hang out laundry.

1. Drying clothes outside on a line saves energy. Project Laundry List, which Reuters notes is promoting open air clothes drying, claims that dryers account for 10% to 15% of our domestic energy consumption. Clotheslines should be encouraged to reduce energy consumption--a simple proposition.

2. Air drying in the winter brings humidity into the house; air drying outside in the summer means the dryer is not producing more heat inside your home.

3. White laundry brightens up in the sun.

4. The sun sanitizes clothes.

5. Hanging up clothes is a simple pleasure that gives mild exercise.

6. Open-air dried sheets, towels, and pillow cases smell wonderful!

7. The dryer is noisy; air drying is silent or you hear the delicious flapping of sheets in the wind.

8. Suspense -- "Uh oh, looks like rain--will I get home in time to bring in the laundry?"

9. Clothes drying in the breeze are also an aesthetic pleasure--think of The Gates exhibit in Central Park in February 2005 by Christo and Jeanne-Claude!

If The Gates is art, why isn't this:

Tea towels out on the line. Search Flickr Clothesline for an impressive photo parade of clotheslines!


Mrs. Mordecai said...

I don't appreciate rules against clotheslines. Our homeowners' association doesn't allow them. Instead of seeing them as an eyesore, I think they're a symbol of home, and that people live here and care.

Linda said...

I definitely agree--I find it strange and against common sense. It seems hard to imagine a society in which it is commonplace for girls to wear mini skirts, neighbors should be affronted by seeing undies on the line!

Thomas at My Porch said...

I love the first laundry painting. It is really wonderful.

My parents live in a community that doesn't allow hanging out laundry. My mother has gotten around this by hanging out on her porch and hiding it by unrolling a bamboo screen across the width of the porch. Unfortunately it doesn't get the sun, but living in Arizona the clothes still get dry really fast.

Julia S. said...

I love #8 -- yes suspense is one of the spices of life.

Our community has a clause that it has to be approved. If you have any prayers for a laundry hanging hopeful say one for me this spring when I try to find a sunny spot in the yard that will meet the HOA approval. Or at least not their resistance.

Love the post and the beautiful pictures.

raidergirl3 said...

I love the look of laundry on the line. I don't hang my 'unmentionables' however, that's just me!

I used to especially love the look of the baby clothes hung on the line.

I just hopped over here from Nan's site - congrats on winning the books, btw, and have enjoyed looking around and reading your homage to the clothesline. I really liked the paintings too. I thought maybe you were from PEI with the title Under the Gables, but I see not.

Thomas at My Porch said...

Ever since I saw your post about laundry in paintings I have been meaning to post a wonderful image I have of a painting called A Woman's Work. I finally managed to do so today giving you credit for inspiring me.

cam said...

There was a Documentary on PBS about Women and their Clotheslines... LOVED IT... wish PBS would Re-Air it.....

Linda said...

Re-Air, so to speak! I hope so too. I didn't know about this--thank you.