The term laundry day had real meaning when I was a child. Laundry was truly a chore that took a whole day to complete. Today, we throw a load into the washer any old time. It is not a major commitment. My mother had a wringer washer and a large two compartment metal tub on wheels. On laundry day one compartment was filled with clean water. After the clothes swished around in the washer for a while, they had to be wrung out through the wringer of course and put in the tub to rinse. They were then wrung out again and carried up the basement stairs to the outside clothes line and hung up to dry. There were five of us in my family, so that added up to quite a bit of laundry. It was all heavy and time consuming work. The clothes line was in the back yard along one side. It ran perpendicular to the house, so it stretched from the house, down a slight hill to practically the end of the property. The clothes line had two rows, higher than my mother could comfortably reach. She would start hanging the clothes near the house and eventually down both lines, depending on how many clothes she had. My usual job was to bring the clothes in as they dried, most of which would then be ironed.
Near the beginning of the clothesline, where the most clothes hung, was a large wild cherry tree. It was a great tree for climbing because it had low branches I could grab and hoist myself up (until I was caught, since I was forbidden to climb trees). If I was lucky, I could sit up there quite a long time while Mother was busy in the house. It was really Dad who enforced the no tree climbing rule anyway and he was usually at work. I loved it up in that tree. Many pretend adventures materialized there.
Every year the same thing happened. Sooner or later, that wild cherry tree blossomed with wild cherries. I knew to stay out of the tree then or I’d be stained with red berry juice – a dead giveaway to what I’d been doing. Mother always went about her usual routine until one day she would become very upset because the birds had been feasting on the berries. As they left the tree, they did what birds do, all over her clean clothes. Every year clothes would be ruined with bright red stains or at the very least, need to be rewashed. My parents discussed for hours it seemed, what could be done. In the end, nothing. The tree was actually over the property line and belonged to our neighbor and he was not going to let it be cut down. Only a few branches extended over our yard. Secretly I was glad.
I was just a kid and didn’t know much, but I always wondered why, when the berries came she didn’t just move the laundry further down the lines. It would have been a bit inconvenient, but definitely not as much work as doing the whole thing over. It was like she either didn’t see the berries or hoped against hope that this year her clothes would not become ruined. Humans can really make things more difficult that they need to be.
Teresa Sue McAdams, co-creator of “Today’s Journey Tarot”, co-author of “Today’s Journey Tarot, A Traveler’s Guide”, co-author of “Tarot Meditations, A Journal for Self Discovery”, and author of “Lessons, The Wisdom Within Each Moment”