Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Defying winter in Minnesota January 10, 2018

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:00 AM
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WITH SNOW MELTING from rooftops and sidewalks under a bold January sun, I lugged a laundry basket of thermal long john tops outdoors to hang on the clothesline.

The visual contrast of those shirts on the line against the backdrop of a snow-filled backyard imprinted by rabbit, squirrel and other animal tracks nearly made me laugh aloud. I was taunting Winter, daring her to keep me from a task I enjoy, although less often in the cold and snow than in other seasons.

But with a respite from sub-zero temps here in Minnesota, I grabbed the opportunity to trump Winter, to prove that, yes, if I want to hang out laundry in January, I will find a day warm enough to do so. There’s something to be said for defying Winter.

As the cold of 20-degree temps numbed my fingers, I felt a sense of satisfaction in this methodical task of hanging laundry. Clip, clip, clip. And then, after the dozen shirts dangled from the line, I stepped back inside to brew myself a mug of coffee, to thaw my hands and to delight in my momentary triumph over Winter.

TELL ME: If you live in a cold weather state, do you hang laundry outdoors in winter?

© Copyright 2018 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

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The joys of hanging laundry outside March 12, 2015

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MELTING SNOW MUSHES the lawn. Rivers of water stream across the driveway from dwindling snow piles. Water puddles in a corner of the garage. At night, sections of the driveway ice over.

But, during the day when the sun beams bright upon the land, the temperature soars into the high fifties/low sixties hinting at summer. Unbelievable in March in Minnesota.

Snow edges my patio where my clothesline unwinds between garage and house.

Snow edges my patio where my clothesline unwinds between garage and house.

The welcome warm weather prompted me to hang out my laundry for the first time in four months on Monday. It was a nippy 28 degrees when I hoisted the laundry basket onto my right hip and stepped out the back door to clip damp clothes to clothesline.

Some would call me crazy. I don’t care.

The clothespins I use are weathered by years of exposure to the weather.

The clothespins I use are weathered by years of exposure to the weather.

There’s something about hanging laundry on the line that is therapeutic. Pick and pinch, pick and pinch, pick and pinch. I work in a methodical rhythm pulling garments from the laundry basket and clipping them in an orderly fashion to the clothesline. Heaviest items like socks and jeans are hung in the brightness of the morning sun. By afternoon, when the sun shifts, the entire wash basks in solar rays.

This unstaged image captures the four seasons: summer/spring (lawn), winter (snow pile) and fall (dried leaf).

This unstaged image captures the four seasons: summer/spring (lawn), winter (snow pile) and fall (dried leaf).

After months of dreary skies and frigid cold, I love the feel of the sun upon my face, the blue of the sky, the promise of spring.

In my opinion, nothing beats line-dried laundry.

In my opinion, nothing beats line-dried laundry.

I love the connection to those pioneer women who hung their family’s laundry under a wide prairie sky. I wonder if they viewed the task as labor, just another chore to be completed. Or did they view hanging laundry as I do, as a precious, peaceful time to savor in the morning of a delightful day?

How about you, do you hang laundry outdoors?

© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Twenty-seven degrees November 3, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 9:06 AM
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THE 17-YEAR-OLD, bundled in his winter coat and stocking cap, poked his head out the kitchen door. “Mom, it’s below freezing.”

“I know. But the sun will come out,” I responded, continuing to pull heavy, wet bath and kitchen towels from the laundry basket and clipping them onto the clothesline.

The door slammed shut.

I smirked, amused that I’d annoyed my son so early in the morning, early being 8:30 given it’s the weekly late-start school day.

As I grabbed the last towel from the basket, my teen stepped out the door, shot me “the look” and shook his head, not even allowing me to reach up and wrap him in a goodbye hug.

“I love you,” I said. “Have a good day at school.”

He didn’t respond. But I saw the speech bubble above his head: “She’s crazy!”

SO, DEAR READERS, are you crazy like me? Crazy enough to hang laundry outside on a crisp, 27-degree morning?

© Copyright 2011 Audrey Kletscher Helbling