It’s a good day for laundry: blue sky, sun, a little wind, a barrel full of rainwater.

 

Raspberry cane laundry basket

The black tub absorbs heat from the sun and warms the water. I save the insects, a green-eyed fly, a little black beetle. For some it’s too late. I sift them out, along with strands of grass, dog hair, a maple leaf. 

All a laundry machine is, is a tub of soapy water and a churning motion. Movement cleans clothes. But I can get them cleaner by scrubbing the cloth between my hands. I hold the cloth in my left hand and use the top knuckles of my right as a wash board. Sometimes I get blisters. It’s an old memory, passed down through generations, ingrained in the muscles of hands, fingers and lower arms. Hand-washing is still alive around the world. It’s an endless task, washing away the traces of the days, what is old, used, past. The best part is laying out the clothes in the sun, propping them on sticks, so that they look  like inanimate beings, shirts without arms, pants without legs, socks without feet. They smell like the sun, they take on a new meaning. ‘To wear’ means both: ‘to dress, disguise, clothe oneself, to carry’, and ‘to slowly disintegrate, erode with time.’

The dogs arrive,  drawn by the sound of water. A squirrel chooses the moment to travel between the trees and the boxer looks up. “Who’s that?” I say. Filou closes his mouth. Then he lies down and sighs. I can hear the donkey behind me, pulling at the long grasses with her teeth. Scrub, rinse, swirl. The splashing water, the heat on my back, the crickets’ weaving chant… all of this is mesmerizing me.

From above, my laundry looks like the earth seen from the moon. I can see Africa and the Mediterranean, and Arabia. North America is just on the curve. I have the world at my fingertips, then everything gets swirled away.