A Day in My Life: Iowa Amish Clotheslines

Suzanne That's Life


A reader wrote to me recently and said she was obsessed with Amish clotheslines. I had to smile. I had just returned from Iowa with dozens of pictures of clotheslines! There’s something about them that is so comforting, so visually appealing. Amish farmhouses tend to be rather sedate looking. Quiet, even, despite the fact that they’re filled with people of all ages. But the ever-present clothesline, flapping violently in the wind, belies the calm. Usually filled with simple clothing–all solids, no prints–colors of jewels so bright and cheerful they take your breath away.

I’ve always had some kind of a clothesline–even if it’s a humble wooden rack in the sunny courtyard. I love the feel of the pins in my hands, the scent of clean, damp laundry, the way the clothes dry so stiff and starchy and smell of the sunshine, the feeling of connecting to women who have gone before me. After all, this was how laundry was dried–up until the 20th century.

The Amish know the secret of hanging clothes in just the right way. They never let the unmentionables show!

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Two questions for you: Why do you think pictures of Amish clothesline are so compelling? And do you hang your laundry out to dry?


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