Living off-grid means every scrap of laundry gets hung on a line, but if you think because the clothes dry more slowly I would be able to stay ahead of the folding, you’d be wrong.
I can wash and hang three hampers full of biohazard-quality laundry in a single day, but the to-be-folded pile only grows. I usually tackle it before Google Earth registers it as a new land mass, and I rarely mind the activity. The rhythm of the sorting always stimulates meditation.
Last Saturday, it stimulated something else.
Hoping to disrupt the strange biorhythms that, only on weekends as soon as I sit down before dawn to write, rouse my children and send them searching for snuggles and cereal, I’ve fled to the nearby country store to work before heading to Hubbard Hall, to help with the tech side of a blogging class. The class has provided plausible cover for my morning escapes, and each afternoon I’ve come home thinking I couldn’t be more thankful for anything else that day than I was for a little grown-up time.
This last Saturday I came home to a different kind of grown-up time. A neighbor phoned looking for computer help. I glanced around our kitchen/great room and at the laundry pile and said, “Come on over!” He would be here in a few hours.
Folding sessions usually occur after bedtime (the biorhythms only manifest when Mom is doing something fun), but with impending company, I made an exception and began my folding dance, aided by my iPod and earbuds.
The couch and table were soon dotted with neat multi-colored piles. My antics immediately drove thirteen-year-old Jack to his room to study. Seven-year-old Thing2, however, remained, quietly dancing over from the TV area.
I sorted and thought about writing and chores. I didn’t really think about the folding aside from which things should go to Goodwill. Thing2 interrupted my ruminations, wrapping his arms around my waist as I was in mid-fold.
“Mommy, can I help?” he asked.
“You really want to fold clothes?” I asked.
“No,” he said. “But I want to help.” He released me and spun around the living room. Then he returned for another hug. “Maybe I can play some music for you,” he suggested. He sat down at the nearby piano and plunked out “Do-Re-Mi”.
I took out my earphones so I could listen. I kept folding, but there was no rhythm now. Thing2 sang softly with the piano. Too small items rotated out of inventory, sometimes taking with them a last tangible souvenir of this family vacation or that event. Jack’s old shirts went into Thing2’s piles. The piles grew and so did the memories.
Well before the to-fold pile was gone and the folded clothes packed into baskets, the task ceased being a burden. It was a reminder of the things that make a life worthwhile. And, for once, I didn’t just make the best of the laundry pile. I was thankful for it.