When it comes to doing laundry, let it all hang out

The clothes dryer is getting much less use these days.

On a recent sunny day, I introduced my daughters to the age-old art of hanging out clothes to dry. What may seem to many like a mundane chore is something I enjoy, and, as I clipped T-shirts and towels to the clothesline, I wondered why I had waited so long to return to my roots. My mother often hung our clothes out to dry, and so did both my grandmothers.

I haven't dried clothes outdoors in years, though, because I became too dependent on my electric dryer. With three children, it was easier to toss the laundry from the washer into the dryer.

But now, with energy costs soaring, it seemed like a good time to get back to basics.

The heavy clothesline poles from an earlier era were here when we moved into our home more than a year ago, and all we needed to do was replace the lines and buy some clothespins.

Hanging the laundry outdoors is such a simple act, but it has cut our electric bill by a surprising margin. Our clothes smell fresh and clean naturally, and the routine of hanging out the wash keeps me active. It also bridges the years, connecting the past to the present and stirring memories of what now seem like simpler times.

Drying our laundry outside is just one of several ways we are now simplifying our life. Others include brewing sun tea, opening the windows instead of turning on the air conditioner, and planting a small vegetable garden.

My husband and I grew up with these basic ways, and as the sun shines down on me as I hang out the wash, it feels like a benediction from above.

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