Am I an endangered species?

Oh, I have a washer and dryer (in working condition, too) and all the trappings of a suburban home. I use them often, especially for towels and whites , knowing full well how much time and labor they save me. Like you, I take that time for husband, for children, for myself. It's quality time.

But there are some things of long ago that are still worth the time and effort of keeping. For me, hanging the wash out on the line is one of them. Over the years it's become such a freeing experience that it's almost a ritual.

The last click of the washing machine is my cue that I'm ready to begin. Once in the washroom, I raise the lid and unconsciously bow to such a wonderful helper. As I lift out the clothes into the basket, they smell clean and wet and wonderful. I carry the basket balanced on my hip and feel a strong attachment to all the women who went before me.

Two pines in our backyard hold the clothesline taut between them with the assist of an oak in the middle. As I step out the glass sliding door of the kitchen, fresh, strong smells of free air enter my nostrils. They clear my nose, my ears, my head. I place the basket on the ground, respectful of all there is. I begin to hang my husband's shirt, my daughter's pants, my son's tattered jeans , the baby's dress. Everything is individual. I have to touch it, shape it, fasten it. It's a reminder of those I love.

Finished, I bow again to lift the basket, empty now but only for a while. I go in and carry on about my duties - the dishwasher to unload and load again, the beds to make, a hobby of mine to pursue. All the while I look out the windows or out the kitchen door and see the wash blowing in the wind. My nightgown almost has my form. The pants all dance together. The shirts clap hands and raise their arms high up to heaven. They are buoyant bodies charged with life, first absorbing, then reflecting, the sun's glow.

On warm days, it takes an hour or two for the clothes to dry. On cooler days, it takes a full morning or even part of the afternoon. On windy days it seems like no time at all.

I look out. Is it time to bring them in? Not yet. It's nice to look at them. The past week spreads out before me - the outfit worn to the concert, the shirt that went to the movies, the dress that soaked up spaghetti sauce at Grandma's house.

But now the sun starts descending. Some clouds roll over. I get the basket quickly, and bring in all that I brought out - only now transformed. Nothing is left to the elements, not even the sock that fell among the leaves.

I fold and flatten, careful not to wrinkle. They're clothes again, but now perfumed with the strong, sweet smell of earth.

Has the two-income family, or what we term the ''progress'' of today's technology, made all this extinct? Have I become an endangered species? Too bad. It's an experience worth sharing, even for just the cottons or the shrinkables.

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