Ode to Outdoor Washing Lines

Dedicated to Anne, with apologies to Dorothy Mackellar !  And Liz   !!!BlogOdewashgline20%ReszdIMG_1266 - Copy

I love the outdoor washing line !
The saviour of our nation :
From sanity to climate change,
So here is my oration…!

I love a full pegged washing line,
Of coloureds and of plains,
Exposed to sun and rugged wind
And sleet and drenching rains !
I love her wide horizons,
Her trailing skirts of bedding;
Her billowing shirts, her blowsy pants;
You see where this is heading…!!!

This verse must cease !
I mustn’t mock
That 19-0-4 poem.
I love its rhyme, its splendrous words,
Australia is my ho-em !
It also is the country of
The outdoor washing line,
Of pearly whites and stunning brights
And lingerie so fine !

There are so many models :
Australia holds a claim
To a circular rotating type.
The Hills Hoist is its name.
It is a regular fairground ride.
Not only does it spin,
It soars and dives and twists and jives,
As clothes go out and in !

While not as fun, the simple form,
Of two sticks and a line,
Is just as adequate for me.
This model suits me fine !

I love the look of outdoor lines :
The laundry in full sail,
The mix of all the colours
From fluoro brights to pales.
I love the sense of order
Of pegging out the wash.
The undies on the inside line,
The length of shirts…. but Gosh !

Is that a misfit pair of shorts
Amongst the row of smalls ? !
It offends my sense of order
And frankly, it appals

My well-developped OCD
And quirky little ways !
Some folk are even worse than me
And spend their washing days
In colour-matching clothes and pegs
Or only using blue
On socks and pink on undies !
I promise you, it’s true !!!

My daughter used to have a thing
About her clothes pegs’ cares.
She worried re their loneliness
If splitting colour pairs !                                                                                                                But back to why I love my line !
It’s not just how it looks !
Although the sight of flapping towels
Could fill a million books !

Their sound is also wonderful !
The tug and thwack they make,
As the wind grows ever stronger
In an all-out effort to take
Their clothes into blue yonder
And strew them o’er the ground,
For you to pick up later
In a game of ‘Lost and Found’ !

My mother also tells the tale
Of freezing Tassie Winters,
Of wringers and of coppers,
When Jack Frost would coat his splinters
On all the towelling nappies –
To dry took two days or three,
They were frozen stiff and solid !
She could clink a symphony !

And then, there is the rhythmic click
Of pegs, the whistling whizz
Of hinges when their plastic snaps
And fly off in a tizz !
The creaking of the trolley wheels,
The groaning wicker loads,
The crinkle of the folded cloths
Till my happiness explodes !!!

I love the feel of crisp dry towels,
The silken feel of sheets;
The soft wool socks, the fragile sheers !
Their texture also meets
The palates of those naughty kids,
The progeny of goats,
Who like to graze your linens
And the sleeves of drying coats !

I love the scent of sun-kissed shirts,
Their warmth against your face !
The dear old humble washing line
Will always hold a place
Within my heart !
It’s evident – it never is a chore
To peg the daily washing out !
For me, it’s not a bore !

That evil, slick, fast drier,
With its energy-guzzling ways,
May suit the full-time worker
With their hectic time-poor days !

It is the ultimate display
Of renewable power source :
The drying wind, the evaporative sun,
The odd rain shower, of course !
To rinse away the offerings
Of birds on their fly-past,
Or the little lint collection
Your machine will often cast
Upon your clothes when over-filled
Or mixed with fluffy gear.
It’s a minor inconvenience.
The drier’s worse, I fear !

It toasts your cuffs, it snags your smalls,
Your smelly socks it guzzles !
The location of that missing pair
Is one of Life’s big puzzles !!
I much prefer my washing line,
The gusty breeze, the sun;
The pegging out of laundry
Is really much more fun !

It’s earned my love, my favours,
My undying gratitude !
It is the very Best of Bests !
No greater platitude
Could ever pass my thankful lips.
I worship it each day.
I even dream of it at night and
Kneel to it to pray !

Core of my heart, my washing line
Fulfills my every need !
It has my awe-inspired respect !
Slow Drying is my creed !!!
It is a Threatened species
In our world of the mod-con,
But there will always be a line
Whatever planet I’m on !!!                                                         by    Jane Stephens

1. The Hills Hoist is a height-adjustable rotary clothes line, designed to permit the compact hanging of wet clothes and their maximum area to be exposed to drying by wind rotation.

It was manufactured first in Adelaide, South Australia , by Lance Hill, in 1945. It is considered one of Australia’s most recognisable icons, and is frequently used by artists as a metaphor for Australian suburbia in the 1950s and 1960s.

Apparently, one Darwin family reported that only thing left standing after Cyclone Tracy was their Hills Hoist ! It is still built in Australia and is listed as a National Treasure by the National Library of Australia.

2. The original poem, ‘My Country, by Dorothy Mackellar, was written as a home-sick 19 year old in Europe at the time and the full poem can be found at : http://www.dorotheamackellar.com.au/

It’s a beautiful poem, but unfortunately lends itself so easily to parody. There are some wonderful send-ups on the following sites :

and finally , the wonderful ‘I Don’t Love a Sunburnt Country’ by Dominic John Gill, found here :

3. And finally, some beautiful artwork. I suspect Jeffrey T. Larson may share my fetish : see his romantic paintings ‘Color of Daylight’; ‘Rose Print’; ‘The Light of Wind’; ‘Washed in Light’; ‘Over the Line’; and ‘Yellow and Blue’ at : http://jeffreytlarson.com/archive/figures/    and


Other lovely paintings involving washing lines include :

I also loved this post : http://marthamoments.blogspot.com.au/2014_06_01_archive.html

I will finish with some photos of my friend’s washing line, when she taught us how to dye with indigo ! A visual treat in deed !!!BlogOdewashgline20%Reszd2014-12-20 13.17.50-2BlogOdewashgline20%Reszd2014-12-20 14.47.33BlogOdewashgline20%Reszd2014-11-21 12.11.52BlogOdewashgline20%Reszd2014-12-20 14.50.51