We tried sun-dried

But there are limits to laundry, we found.

Only after the straight-talking Maytag repairman handed me the bill and waved goodbye – for the third time in six months – did I finally acknowledge the painful truth: Our 20-year-old clothes dryer was irrevocably busted.

I turned to my husband. "He says we're throwing good money after bad," I sighed. "I think he's right."

"I'm going to miss that guy," said my spouse, the joker. "When do you want to go shopping for a new one?"

"Let me think about it."

I glanced out the window, appreciating the sunlight dancing on the big-leaf maples in our backyard. Perfect drying weather. Suddenly, I recalled my mother hanging laundry on the patio clothesline during my Santa Monica, Calif., childhood. My giggling sister and I had played hide-and-seek among the sweet-smelling sheets flapping in the wind.

I had a plan.

"You know, we have all the elements of a dryer right in the backyard: plenty of warmth; clean, fresh air; and lots of branches to hang clothes on," I said.

"And it would help with the skyrocketing electric bill," noted the pragmatist in our family. "You're onto something."

And so it began: After the wash cycle, we festooned the maples with damp bluejeans, shirts, socks, and towels. The only things that didn't go outside were feminine unmentionables. And I persuaded my shameless husband to let his big boxer shorts stay indoors, too.

There is a secret pleasure in hanging laundry outdoors. It is the perfect excuse to get up from the computer. While checking on the laundry in the backyard, I could commune not only with cotton T-shirts, but also my cats nestled in deck chairs, licking their sun-warmed fur. I could watch cautious does amble through the yard with their fawns, listen to fretting squirrels in trees, observe a family of wild turkeys by the road. I'd return to my desk refreshed.

And, except for the sandpaper texture of sun-dried bath towels, the drying method was a complete success. But as autumn emerged, I'd scan the horizon to evaluate the day's drying potential. One morning I saw rain clouds ready to burst. I had a load of wet clothes in my arms and no place to put them.

I corralled my husband. Together we hung laundry throughout the house.

Then my husband gave me a hug and a smile. "I think it's time to buy a dryer," he said. "Like today."

"Good idea," I said, just as the infamous Oregon rain started in earnest.

Our home-based sun-dried laundry venture was closed for the season.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.