Have you ever noticed how as an adult, all the bright colors go out of your life? Now that I'm not a kid anymore, things always look gray, like a clothesline draped with laundry that's been washed too many times and left to stand in the wind. I guess that's what growing up is... it's a fading photograph.
If we all used clotheslines, we could save 30 million tons of coal a year, or shut down 15 nuclear power plants. And you don't have to wait to start. Yours could be up by this afternoon. To be specific, buy 50 feet of clothesline and a $3 bag of clothespins and become a solar energy pioneer.
She was the only doctor's wife in Branford, Maine, who hung her wash on an outdoor clothesline instead of putting it through a dryer, because she liked to look out the window and see the clothes blowing in the wind. She had been especially delighted, one day, when one sleeve of the top of her husband's pajamas, prodded by the stiff breeze off the bay, reached over and grabbed her nightgown around the waist.
In Hawaii, family showed itself in the way that my siblings never dared to call one another "half" anything. We were fully brothers and sisters. Family appeared in the pile of rubber slippers and sandals that crowded the entrance to everyone's home; in the kisses we gave when we greeted one another and said good-bye; in the graceful choreography of Grandma hanging the laundry on the clothesline; in the inclusiveness of calling anyone older auntie or uncle whether or not they were relatives.
Good fences make good neighbors, and these were apparently good enough that they had not felt the need for razor wire at the top. I crested the fence, threw myself into the yard beyond, fell, rolled to my feet, and ran with the expectation of being garroted by a taut clothesline. I heard panting, looked down, and saw a gold retriever running at my side, ears flapping. The dog glanced up at me tongue rolling, grinning, as though jazzed by the prospect of an unscheduled play session.