But the way I really know it’s spring is because today, for the first time this year, I was able to hang out laundry on the line.
It’s not warm enough to go without socks (unless you’re in the twelve-and-under crowd, that is), and I won’t go running around in shorts just yet. But the temptation, amid the sun-drenched grass and the smell of fresh air, to hang out load after load of laundry, on the line that’s sagging so badly I have no business burdening it with wet clothes, was just too great.
I couldn’t help myself.
Spring is full of many kinds of loveliness. There’s the new life that’s bursting from every corner; there’s the wonder of discovering the change an afternoon of real warmth can make; there’s outside play and inside cleaning. The motivation of spring days is unparalleled in my life: I find myself looking for any excuse to be out in the sun, to listen to the music of wind and birds and children.
But when I stand at the laundry line, up to my elbows in laundry, I find myself reflecting in different ways. It is at the line, perhaps clipping up a t-shirt, that I will reflect on the joys of each person in my house. At the line, I find myself praying the rosary with new meaning, with fresh happiness, with much-needed humility.
I’m the person in my house who does laundry. My husband would learn, I’m sure, if I asked him to. But, between you and me, I’m OK if he never does. I feel, when I’m doing laundry – and especially as I smell the outside-fresh-smell of the slightly stiff dry clothes as I fold them into the basket off the line – that I’m best at smiling my way through my vocation of mother and wife.
The job doesn’t seem so bad, most of the time, but sometimes the volume of it – laundry especially – is overwhelming. Sometimes I need help, and only divine intervention can make the burden of stress and the feeling of incompetence go away.
I find that divine intervention standing with my back to the house, my feet encased in cold grass, my hair flapping in the breeze. I find the peace of nature as I clip the line of laundry, sometimes making a game out of putting all the t-shirts together, all the pants together, all the baby’s clothes together. I realize the importance of my role and the hidden blessings of my tedious chores when I’m looking around at the barns and the sheep, the trees and the gardens, the swallows swooping and the dogs chasing.
Laundry has a way of piling up in the winter. I fold it and leave it on the table…for weeks at a time. I let the baskets in the laundry room overflow. I leave baskets of unfolded laundry to breed in the kitchen.
But in the spring…in the spring, the laundry soars from my fingers to the line, and I breathe in deeply as I say thanks to Our Lord for the wonder of his creation. In the spring, I reintroduce myself to a pocket of quiet time that I forget to miss throughout the indoor months. Sometimes I think of how Mary must have hung out laundry, all those years ago. I wonder if she looked around and if she noted how the little clothes kept getting bigger, in an unstoppable parade. I muse that maybe she’s standing there, beside me, smiling and nodding and rooting me on in my vocation.