3.20.2011

Unanswered Prayers and the Art of Everyday Living

Clothes line in Italy, 123rf.com



Clotheslines in Burano, Italy (an island in the Venetian lagoon) via Superstock

Another clothesline in Italy....why does everything just look better in Italy?
When I was still a teen (approximately 115 years ago when claw bangs, parachute pants, and jazz shoes were legitimate fashion choices), Garth Brooks had a popular song, "Unanswered Prayers," where he rejoiced in the way his life worked out since God didn't grant his earlier wishes.  Looking at the issue from the other side, Truman Capote named his bitter, unfinished, semi-biographical final novel "Answered Prayers," taking its title from St. Teresa of Avila, "There are more tears shed over answered prayers than unanswered ones."  In short, human beings are generally very bad at determining which situations and choices will result in the best for them.  Sometimes, the greatest outcomes derive from the worst beginnings.  In fact, a lot of my current happiness can be directly linked to being fired from my dream job in my 20s.

Recently, I have been reminded of this again.  Our dryer is on the fritz, sometimes working, more often not.  And, quite frankly, there is no room in our budget to replace it and we're also hesitant to risk paying a couple of hundred dollars to fix it with no guarantee of success.  I also don't want the inconvenience and expense of a laundromat dryer--so what to do?  Solution:  I went old school...back to my roots.  I.e.  I broke out a clothesline (we are fortunate enough to have an enclosed backyard, so we won't be annoying any potentially high-toned neighbors who might object to seeing our dainties exposed to the open air).

I started hanging out the clothes because of necessity, but I've come to enjoy it.  It reminds me of my childhood on the farm, where we (usually I was stuck with this chore, but that might be selective memory) hung our clothes out all summer...I had forgotten the wonderful smell--a combination of sunshine and fresh air--of clothes dried on the line.  Nothing beats climbing between sun-dried sheets--not even ironing them with lavender water.  It also makes me feel like I'm doing something, even though small, to help the environment and cut our costs.  It also reminds me of the summers I spent in Italy.  I always try to live "European"---seasonal food, the respect for leisure, that certain style that just invades every aspect of their lives--I had forgotten, though, the bright lines of clothes draped (even in the major cities) across and between buildings...the bright clothes fluttering like medieval banners...a splash of color and art in everyday life.

8 comments:

carla fox said...

Summers spent in Italy???? You MUST tell this story! A fantasy for me:)

h. m. settoon said...

when I was in design school in my twenties, my favorite aunt paid for me to my college's summer semester in Italy program which had several course hours in Interior Design. So I was lucky enough to spend 6 weeks in Rome, with weekend trips to Capri, Venice, Tuscany, and a week in Florence. Then, when I graduated from design school, I won a fellowship whose proceeds were to be used for travel and study in Europe...I loved my trip to Italy so much, I used the money to attend Duke University's summer semester in Venice studying art history. Those two summers changed my life.

h. m. settoon said...

it was kind of like eat, pray, love, but with only a little praying, no love (except for Italian culture and gelato) and lots of eating...see previous comment about gelato

anita said...

my grandmother never owned a clothes dryer.
i have fond memories of the clothes on the line; and the sweet smell of the sheets on the bed i slept on.

joodieg said...

have been campaigning for a clothes line for YEARS, with no success - there is just nothing like that smell
good for you, sweetie!

beki said...

I so want a clothesline!! I grew up with one in the baakyard. There were many sheet forts built under those clotheslines! As soon as we fence our backyard, I will have a clothesline - not that I really care what our neighbors think, but I feel a little exposed hanging things out now.

Paula said...

I don't remember your ever hanging in clothes on the line in the back yard. I remember having to put them up and take them down, however,

design elements said...

wow...Elsie de Wolfe's qoute on your header is one of my fav!