The past and future of laundry
Carl Tashian

Reflections on Laundry, Newfoundland 2000

While traveling in Newfoundland, I noticed a curious thing: almost every backyard had a small wooden platform with five steps up to it, a bare space a few square feet wide, and a tall pole. At our B & B, I asked about the platform. Our hostess laughed and answered that it was for the clothesline; one needed the platform to stand on during the winter when the snow was five feet deep.

In the countryside was another curious thing: little caves in hillsides with rock walls and little round doors. They were root cellars generations old, and they worked perfectly to preserve food for all ten cold months of the year.

Newfoundlanders displayed a quiet, confident attitude of rugged independence and self-sufficiency.

There is much we Americans could learn from them. Americans are just not the tough breed we pretend to be. We buy machines to do the simplest of things for us — sharpen our pencils, wake us up, lull us to sleep. We use machines to dry clothes even when the temperature is 80.

Magazines and movies continue to present a picture of Americans as extremely materialistic and proud of it….always laughing, always consuming. Lemmings marching confidently toward the cliffs.

But green is becoming beautiful! I appreciate the recent public service commercials on energy conservation. They have been up-tone and creative; they model simple ways to make a difference.

I have my own idea for a public service commercial: a row of pretty girls hanging laundry, lovely hair and wet clothes blowing gently in the breeze . . . not in a hurry, not with anxiety; they could even be singing. To further inspire us, it might be fun to include a few pretty Newfoundlanders wrapped up in fur parkas, hanging their laundry over five feet of snow.

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