Monday, April 18, 2011

Wash Day

   French washing machines are not remotely like North American washing machines. To begin with, they're considerably smaller. Ours holds about five kilos or, to put it another way, two sheets and two pillow cases which you load from the top into a metal drum. You access this by what we call "the jaws of death," a fiendish device that snaps together with the speed and ferocity of a crocodile. I won't bore you with details of the many, many programs we can choose from. Pick coton blanc and we can drive to Mirepoix, have a look round the market, and drive home in the time it takes to wash whites at a high temperature. Normally, we use the lowest, fastest setting.
   After we'd survived an entire winter without one, we realized that we could live without an expensive-to-run, ecologically suspect clothes dryer. Instead, we dry everything on a folding rack, either indoors for part of the year or out in the garden. (We also have a little folding device designed to hook over a radiator or a balcony railing.) Today, the rack was already holding two big table cloths and I had an urge to wash white linen.
   To wander off for a moment, along with "faded denim," one of my favourite fashion phrases is "gently rumpled linen." There's something about--you can't really even call them "creases"--the soft dimples and dents in a linen shirt that captures the essence of an old-fashioned summer. Fields full of scarlet poppies, riverside picnics, sun-dappled woodland cetera, et cetera.
    So three linen blouses of mine and one linen shirt of his went into the washing machine, came out half an hour later and were soon hanging on the pergola, sandwiched between a rose bush and the wisteria.

No comments: