Four Sheets to the Wind
Oh how I miss my clothesline. "But wait" you say, "isn't that a clothesline in the photo above?" Well, yes those are my sheets and they are hanging on some line, but to me that's a wannabe clothesline. It's an umbrella clothesline. A real clothesline stretches from your back door to a big high pole on your back fence, secured at each end by a metal pulley. The majority of a real clothes line is high above the ground, where the wind blows everything dry in no time. When you take your clothes out of the washing machine before you use a real clothesline, you put the small things on the bottom of the laundry basket, and the big things on top, because the big things like sheets, are first on the line. Wet clothes are then picked out of your basket one by one and shaken with a brisk thwap that scares out the wrinkles. They are then stretched across the line and secured with wooden pegs. They stutter across the sky as you push the line away from you with a practiced hand, efforts punctuated by the satisfying squeak of the pulley.
Maybe someday I'll have a real clothesline again, but for now, I'll be grateful that I have a wannabe. For practical purposes, it's great for the environment and your pocket book. According to Wikipedia, it saves 2kg of greenhouse gases per dryer load and also saves on your electric bill. It's easier on your clothes than a dryer, so they'll look better and last longer. The only semi-legitimate complaint I've heard about a clothesline is the time factor. I don't see this as a disadvantage though. You'd be surprised at the mediative nature of hanging up your clothes and then later taking them off the line, folding them and placing them in your basket. If you have any kind of clothesline, you also know that clothes that come off one are brighter and cleaner and at least once per load, you can't help pulling something soft and cottony to your face as you close your eyes and breath in the smell of sunshine.
Post Script: If you're interested in more info about clothesline culture a woman in Nova Scotia has written a book called "Fine Lines" that's quite enlightening. And her site has some lovely inspirational photos of those fine lines.