Going Green in Real Time

It was a beautiful sunny day. They lived across the highway from the cement plant and the clothes lines were in the front yard. Rugged hills surrounded them and a small river snaked close to the hill side. She looked up from the basket of clothes she was about to hang and remembered the words to a song. “Oh what a beautiful morning, oh what a beautiful day. I have beautiful feeling…everything is going my way.” The small child at her side would hear the words of the song when she became an old lady and she always heard it as though it were being sung by her mother.

How long has it been since you actually thought about a clothes line? You remember…they are those lines that were strung between two sturdy poles in the ground. You hung your wet clothes on them to dry. You used clothes pins or pegs and placed your clothes out to dry in the summer sunshine and in the winter to freeze dry. The sheets smelled like heavenly fresh air and the blue jeans were stiff as a board. Underwear was hung discreetly between the lines so the neighbors could not see how ragged they were. Unmentionables often never left the bath room towel rack.

Neighborhoods actually have covenants now that forbid the use of a clothesline. Sensibilities are offended by reminders of by gone days when people did not put everything in a machines to wash and then to dry. I am sure that wash tubs and wash boards would also be banned if anyone actually used them anymore.

There is a neighborhood in Bend, Oregon, I read, that is offended by a person that had the audacity to string a clothes line and dry their clothes outdoors. I don’t know why that person did such a thing. Maybe they wanted to “go green” and save on gas, electricity and space inside. Maybe their dryer was on the fritz and they just needed to wash and dry their clothes. Maybe they just liked the feel of clean sheets and stiff jeans. Maybe they just wanted to hang clothes and sing “Oh what a beautiful morning…”? Who knows.

Here in Oregon we “pretend” to love the environment. That is until we actually see someone doing something like hang their clothes out to dry on the back deck or, heaven forbid, on a line strung in the back yard. Then the citizens of neighborhoods become enforcers. We need to keep everything bland and the same and unoffensive. So like the beautiful hanging plants that create oxygen, the clothes lines have gone away. They have gone the way of the screen door that replaces air conditioning and the brown summer lawn that save water and avoid the use of polluting lawn mowers.

I know what, let’s make a list of things we could do to save our environment and then see how many of those things are forbidden in neighborhoods around our country. Maybe I am wrong but I think that many of those things we could do to save water, gas, electricity and our air are deemed inappropriate in upper and middle class neighborhoods. Think about it!



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