Simple Security, by Sharon Hazard

Trying something new today….

I am a member of a group of sparkly women. We call ourselves the Atomic Engineers. I believe this began when we were trying to think of a name that would discourage others from wanting to join us, which sounds horribly asocial and more in keeping with my misanthropic self than with the other lovely women within this group.

We are writers, but we are not a typical critique group. At our monthly gatherings, we talk about what’s going on in our writing lives, and our real lives, too. We brainstorm ideas to help with challenges, share successful strategies, and complain about the state of publishing. Each day we Atomic Engineers do many different things–research, teach, work in a library, stay home with children–but what unites us is the fact that we write.

One of my fellow Atomic Engineers, Sharon Hazard, read my post about my mother and wanted to post her writing about her own mother. Sadly, Sharon is blogless. And thus I am hosting Sharon today. These are her words:

Simple Security

When my clothes dryer broke I time-traveled back to another world.  It was the reassuring world of my mother and other post-World War II brides who were satisfied with what they had: a family, a Cape Cod-style house and a nice backyard.

In those yards stood an emblem of 1950s America: the clothesline.  This simple cotton rope stretched tautly over two poles that stood like protective pillars, defined a woman’s domain.  Our yard belonged to my mother and she to it.

The clothesline was more than just a place to hang clean wash.  It was a place for my mother to chat with neighbors, watch children as they swung from iron-posted swing sets and appreciate the simple beauty around her.  Over the clothesline, my mother swapped recipes while taking time to smell the roses…and the freshly laundered items swinging in the breeze.

Mom didn’t seem to need an escape from the everyday, she was happy within her own world.  She didn’t need nature walks. She had her own garden.  She didn’t need a gym to maintain her Scarlet O’Hara size waist, her daily trips to the basement washing machine and out to the clothesline kept her fit.  She didn’t need to go to a tanning salon; being outdoors gave her a healthy glow.

When I began to hang my own wash, maneuvering the clothes to make sure the line could accommodate my damp bundles, I felt as if I were putting together a jigsaw puzzle.  I remembered my mother’s meditative motions as she hung each piece of laundry, arranged by size and shape, on the line in neat rows.  As I smoothed each item, visions of my mother in her crisp, pastel shirtwaist dress with deep pockets that doubled as clothespin holders appeared.  I could clearly see her bending to the laundry basket, the firmly shaking out a pillowcase as she straightened her back and reached up to gently secure it with the wooden pins nestled in her pockets.  At day’s end, if I persisted, she would let me iron my father’s handkerchiefs.  How proud I was to get them perfectly smooth and folded into small, white squares, stacked and ready to be placed in the top drawer.

During my days without a working clothes dryer, I was swept away to another time and place where mothers still hung wash outdoors and went to bed with a sense of accomplishment, a firm notion of where they belonged in the world and a quiet contentment to be there.  They put their heads on the pillow knowing they had done a good day’s work.  They had tucked their clean laundry away in linen closets and dresser drawers just as they had tucked their children into bed, clean and fresh from a day outdoors.

The author's mother and a neighbor taking down the wash.

It took me several weeks to call a repairman to fix my dryer.  I was reluctant to leave this cozy world of Cape Cod houses, fenced-in backyards and mothers who took pride in and had time for the little things.

Happy Mother’s Day Mom                      Dorothy Williams, 1911-2009

Visit Sharon’s website or contact her sharonhazbooks@gmail.com.

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About Audrey Vernick

Audrey Vernick writes books for young readers.
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One Response to Simple Security, by Sharon Hazard

  1. liontamar says:

    In Australia we still use our clothes lines and I love it!! We have the hills hoist which has so many happy fun memories for me not to forget to mention iconic. Your description of hanging the clothes was wonderful to read and I can totally relate. Great post 🙂

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