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Just hanging around

Take a stroll through any neighbourhood in Newfoundland and you will see them. They come in all shapes and sizes, but they serve the same purpose.

It might seem obvious, but the humble clothesline is a source of debate in many towns and cities throughout Canada and the United States. Some places have even instituted bans on the practical clothes-drying device.

Opponents to the clothesline will site aesthetics and safety concerns (such as strangulation) as reasons not to have clotheslines.

Right across North America there is a movement known as “Right to Dry”, giving people the legal right to pin their clothes, blankets, towels — what have you — in the fresh air.

There’s nothing like curling up in a newly made bed with sheets that came “off the line” that day. The crispness is invigorating and relaxing at the same time. It can provoke memories of childhood and long summer days.

Try to tell a Newfoundlander they can’t put their wash out to dry and you will have one unhappy bunch. Just try it, we dare you. It’s one of the fundamental parts of being a Newfoundlander — it’s one of our “Saltwater Joys”. Heck, it’s so popular that tourism promotional materials feature brightly coloured quilts swinging in the breeze and many an artist has been inspired by a line of tea towels. Spring, summer, winter or fall — hanging clothes on the line is a right of passage. Just ask anyone who’s ever tried to wrangle a pair of frozen jeans or trying to wash your face with a rigid cloth that has become even more of a solid as it dried in the summer sun.

So the next time you head out to pin some clothes on the line, think of the poor-unfortunate souls in some urban settings who are deprived of the basic right to enjoy one of nature’s simple pleasures.

It’s not just about conserving energy, it’s a way of life.


—   Karen Wells


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