Laundry Day

I pull out the umbrella clothesline, haul it to the back yard and drop it into its hole. It is opening day of outdoor drying season and my line has been languishing in the rafters of the garage all winter. Languishing and quite mysteriously...tangling. I try to untangle the mess. This line over that, that line over this, lift them over the pole, weave in and out, out and in. Frustration. It's hopeless. I simply cannot trace the beginning and the end, placing each line in perfect alignment.

So I unknot at the beginning and begin to pull the line loose. Pull after pull, row after row. The line stretches from one side of my yard to the other and back. I walk back and forth, pull after pull, row after row. Finally, with two rows remaining I am able to untangle what is left. And then begins the restringing. I hesitate, thinking that perhaps I'll leave it for the next day. There is work to be done, reports to file, bills to pay. 'Real' work.

But I can't leave this unfinished, it calls to me as I start to walk away. So I turn back and begin to string the line. Hole after hole, row after row.

And as I string I begin to hear it, soft and plaintive notes carried with the wind, an echo of native flutes and melancholic scales. The wind is blowing through the holes, resonating in hollow aluminum chambers. Transfixed, I continue to string, hole after hole, row after row, listening to the song of wind that has blown for centuries over grasslands. Finally I finish, tying off the last bit of line. The song is silent now, the wind no longer able to blow freely through the holes. "Beautiful," I think as I turn to get my laundry.

Work still waits for me. A few seconds would have had the laundry in the clothes dryer without the work and the back and forth pulling of the line. But there would have been no songs, no moments to move me out of time and place to where imagination dwells.


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