Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Clothesline

No matter where we’ve lived, I’ve always had a clothesline, because I love hanging laundry outside.  Not so much because it’s the  “green” thing to do.  It is, and I love that it is, but because the scent of clothes and linens dried in the sun and fresh air is just another wonderful benefit of warmer weather.

cracked clothesline

This is my clothesline.  A retractable model that I can uncoil about 20 feet and attach to a hook on the front yard fence.  It doesn’t hold a whole lot, but in the summer, when the weather is hot, I can  hang consecutive loads and not use my dryer at all. 

Can you see how it looks a little burned on one side, and cracked on the other?

Once upon a time, my clothesline was attached to this tree…


We were living in western New York, in the small town of Alfred.  One clear and sunny summer afternoon, Stuart was just about to take Amy-who was two at the time-out to her swing in the back yard.  I don’t remember what delayed them for several minutes, but whatever it was was, thank goodness, because a bolt of lightening came down out of the blue and shattered the tree that had both Amy’s swing and my clothesline attached to it.  To this day I remember how deafeningly loud the boom was when the tree was struck.

Even now, I don’t like to think about what the outcome might have been if Amy had been in her swing.   I’m just thankful all three of us were inside the house.

clothesline and swing

There’s Amy’s swing-and my clothesline, still on the trunk to the left of it.

split tree 

When the lightening hit the tree, the tree exploded, and shards of wood flew so far and wide that some went up and over the house and landed in the front yard, while other shards impaled the surrounding lawn.

peeled bark

The  lightening  peeled the bark down to the ground on one side of the trunk-

tree roots

and exited out through the tree’s roots.

After that, I was surprised that my clothesline was intact and functioning.  Fourteen years, and hundreds of loads of laundry later I’m still using it, too.  I hope I don’t ever need to replace it.  A clothesline this reliable is hard to find!


  1. Wow, the ground pictures blow my mind!

    Our clothesline broke - I need the hubby to work on it, as I love saving the energy by not using the dryer!

  2. Oh My GoodNESS!!! WoW!!! Amazing! When my momma was a young girl on the ranch in Montana .. she and her cousin were way out riding. She said a bolt hit the barbed wire fence and the wires turn red and lit up as far as she could see. They took the long way home .. needless to say! She is not too fond of lightening to this day!

    John went to Paul Smiths College up by Saranac Lake .. I finally got to go there a few years back. New York is beautiful! Cold in the winter!

    ***I love hanging my cloths out too.. and it is the smell of sunshine .. I hang them out here and they are damp all day ~:o)

  3. Well you guys, I left a nice long comment to you both and Blogger ate it!

    Lisa-I hope your clothesline is fixed soon! And Lisa-that fence must have been an incredibly amazing sight!!

  4. Might I add, my grandfather was struck by lightening while sitting on a mule at the entrance of a barn (where he would not get wet). The lightening traveled through his body, killed the mule who collapsed beneath him, and ended in a nail that was attatched to his overalls, burning the surrounding material. That nail saved his life.

  5. Dawn-incredible story! Poor mule, but thank goodness your grandfather was saved by a nail-of all things!

  6. Wow!!! Sounds like your clothesline is a keeper. And I agree. Laundry dried on the line smells so much better.

  7. Tina, Air dried laundry just smells so "clean" I think! I hope my little clothesline never breaks!

  8. That's a really freaky story about the tree! It's pretty cool that your clothesline survived. Your descriptions of hanging your clothes on it are so picturesque that they make me wish I had one.

  9. Thanks Tracy! I'm glad my clothesline survived too! I bet you'll have your own some day:)