Tuesday, March 28, 2006

I wonder where the boydies is...

Spring is, well... springing, here in Tennessee. At least this is a season with a name we can all agree on (let's not even go into that whole Autumn/Fall fiasco). In fact, the weather has improved so much that I was inspired to dig me a hole.

'Has she finally done in one of the children?' I telepaphically hear you ask. 'Have things got so bad that she's ready to fill the bath and plug in the toaster?' No, sillies, it's Spring - time for planting things. Although, I don't expect to get much growth from what I planted this week. But I'm getting ahead of myself...

One of my first discoveries on hitting the shores of this great land (metaphorically speaking - there aren't too many shores near to where we are right now) was that these people are all drying their laundry in (gasp!) clothes dryers! Now my US friends need to understand that the backyard clothesline is so ingrained into Australian culture that for us a backyard without a clothesline is like a kitchen without a sink. The electronic clothes dryer is for the wealthy, the extravagant, or anyone living in Melbourne (city of eternal rain).

I have to say, to begin with it was no great hardship. 'Oh dear, I shall have to throw these clothes in the dryer rather than have the fun and excitement of hanging them up one by one, waiting for them to dry and unhanging them.' However, once the novelty of technology wore off I found myself missing my clothesline. I got really tired of having baskets of wet clothes lined up in the laundry waiting to be dried... and since our laundry is also our hallway, that can be an Occupational Health and Safety issue. Plus the clothes didn't smell as fresh, and I couldn't rely on 'sun power' to remove any lingering stubborn stains. I could go on. But I won't. It would bore you. Truly.

Anyway, some time last year I managed to get my hands on a Hills Hoist rotary clothesline. If anyone is at all unsure of what these look like, here's one now:


It came to us from Australia via Quebec, Canada. I called mine Hilda (the Hills Hoist). I inherited my mother's tendency to name inanimate objects.

Well, Hilda entered our lives just in time for winter to set in. Think frozen ground and days with about 23 minutes of sunshine. So Hilda has, until recently, been inhabiting our walk in wardrobe. Until, that is, this week. Yes, the plants were blooming, the sun was shining, and we even found our first tic for the year (eeuurgh). A perfect time for installing a clothesline.

I downloaded my instructions from the company's web site, got my tools, and was ready to go. Thankfully the 'call before you dig' people had already been out to our place and marked the safe spots for our cable company (who promise faithfully that they absolutely will get that electrical cable buried before the end of all time). So I managed not to electrocute myself or dig into a sewer.

Let me just pause to make the following point. You don't know how big a 250mm (10inch) wide by 650mm (26 inch) deep hole is - until you've dug one with a hand trowel. I felt like I should be gnawing on a carrot and taking the left at Albuquerque. At one point I was sure I heard David Wrightson giving the call to worship at Quakers Hill Uniting Church in Sydney, so I turned around and went back. If Oliver had said just one more time "What are you doing, mum?" I was about ready to pitch him into the hole and fill it in. Of course, like the saintly mother I am, I resisted the temptation. Instead I persisted until the hole was dug, filled one third with coarse gravel, and cemented the clothesline into position.

This took, you understand, the better part of two days. Two days of sun shining, boydies singing, and small forest creatures dancing and singing around lost maidens hiding in the woods from wicked step-mothers. When I was finally finished I put away my tools, scraped the mud from my shoes (and knees, and elbows), went inside and switched on the telly. I swear to you, the first words I heard - before the picture even had time to appear on the screen - were "Now for the weather. We're expecting snow in middle Tennessee tonight."


In the end it didn't snow (of course), but I did have to wait a further four days before the next sunny opportunity to finally put Hilda to good use. Naturally, by that time we'd completely run out of clean clothes and I'd washed all our dirty clothes the day before and put them through the dryer like a wealthy, extravagant Melbournian.

Still, it is looking fairly clear today. If you'll excuse me, I just need to go encourage the children to grub around in the dirt a little...