Am I the only one who thinks of herself as Anne Shirley or Laura Ingalls Wilder sometimes? I must admit that I love those characters and what the world was like then. Many times I have thought I was born in the wrong time period–I should have been alive during my grandparents’ childhood days. All these pretty images, all these nostalgic feelings… Then, it happens… your dryer has died, and it’s raining outside. The beautiful daydream ends as you look at the endless garland of clothes, and you realize that the life those people lived was way harder than the one you live.
With Christmas just around the corner and seven kids to buy for, we knew we didn’t need to spend money on the dryer right then. My inner Laura Ingalls stepped up, and I decided that I could just hang the clothes on a clothes line to get us through the holidays. I had done it before.
Those first couple of days were fairly easy…until I realized just how much laundry we can generate! [Our family averages 11 loads of laundry a week.] Pretty quickly, I found that there are a good many other obstacles to not having a working dryer.
Still, I thought, this is great! I can do this for a few weeks!
Then, one day, I looked out and there was smoke filling our whole area. So, I ran out and snatched the clothes down. Another day, same thing happened with a gross smell. Another day, the line snapped just as I was finishing pinning them up, and I cried! Yet another day, rain. All this, and there was no backup plan. I didn’t have a dryer I could use, so there were clothes literally hanging all over my laundry room with a box fan pointed at them, as well as throughout the rest of the house.
I learned that hanging the clothes was the easy part, and that the other obstacles that stood in my way were the real challenges.
Air Drying Obstacles
- outside conditions
- smoke in the air
- fertilizer fumes in the air
- limited daylight
- temps not warm enough (it was fall, then winter, ya’ll)
- logistical problems
- not enough clothesline space
- line snapping when you have the whole line full! (yep, that happened)
- dust due to drought
- children and pets thinking it’s fun to play in the clothes
Life and Laundry
My life at that point revolved around laundry. There had to be a better way, but I didn’t know what it was. I cried and prayed, and muttered under my breath, fussed at my kids, and prayed. It really was awful at first, but then I stumbled upon this precious gem called All About Laundry: Save Money, Save Time. I am telling you, that book was a game changer!
What I learned (some things from the book, and some things trial and error):
- I learned how to hang clothes outside.
- I realized that the weather app was my new friend!
- I realized that with proper use of fabric softener, smoke and fertilizer smells didn’t stick to our clothes.
- I learned the best ways to hang the clothes to get the best shape and most efficient drying arrangements.
- I knew the latest I could hang a load out so that it would be dry before dark.
- I learned that folding as I took things off the line, almost eliminated the need for ironing.
- As an added bonus, as months passed, I noticed a big savings on our utility bill, an average of $47 a month! That’s $564 for the year!
Most importantly, I began to enjoy this task because I was outside enjoying fresh air in God’s creation. It’s quiet, allowing me a few moments to enjoy the glorious sunshine and fresh air! I began to see what was important, learning to take care of the important and urgent stuff, and letting the rest wait.
What I learned about life when my dryer died
This is true in all of life. Everything isn’t urgent. I thought that not having a dryer was an urgent need. What I learned was that [for us] while a reasonable and even basic want, it’s a want.
When your dryer dies, and it’s raining outside, maybe it is the end of life as you know it (at least on the laundry front). It was for me in the beginning, too, and I might have had a hissy fit or two! In the end, though, it has been good, great even, even though I wanted to stomp and scream at first. [Confession: Sometimes, like when the line breaks again, I still want to stomp and scream.]
In life, often “it’s raining when your dryer isn’t working.” I think that’s because there’s a lesson it it for us. Do you do well and learn the lesson, or are you like me and have to have the remedial version time and time again? My hope for us is that we can learn the lesson. I’ve learned a lot…about myself, about doing things the old way, about patience, about finding joy in every day things.
There is joy and satisfaction in accomplishing such a task. Maybe I do have a little Anne or Laura in me after all. Perhaps you do, too!