What I’m sharing with you here is a little far afield from what I usually share with you – but it allows me to give you some fun insight into an American living in Europe. Plus, after all the recent political noise, let’s talk about something a little lighter than elections and ballot initiatives…

It’s been a long summer into fall getting settled in our new (old) home in southern Portugal. Things are slowly falling into place but, as you can well imagine, creating a new “life infrastructure” in a different country has been a massive assignment – and, of course, one that I’ve willingly taken on.
The BIG stuff is in place – becoming a legal resident, finding digs, buying a car, securing health insurance (cheap!), shipping our goods… the bottom-line essentials. And now begins the absorbing of countless new ways of “doing things” …like taking a number and waiting in line patiently. Learning to be comfortable with the cold mid-60s Atlantic surf, being okay with dogs trotting loose and my favorite – hanging the wash out to dry!

This last one is ubiquitous in Portugal – with more than 300-days of sunshine, often breezy conditions, and very expensive electricity, it’s no wonder most every apartment and other dwellings have a version of a clothesline… or a rack that attaches to the outside of a window. Other European countries do it as well of course but in this respect, Portugal appears to be an overachiever (perhaps because it’s warmer year round than most of its European neighbors?).

At any rate, we inherited a clothesline and decided that before we commit to buying and installing a dryer, it makes sense for us to first check out winter here in the south of the country. Could it be that most Portuguese have a preference for line-dried clothes?
When I was a kid one of my chores was hanging clothes on the clothesline. I loved it!
I was out in our backyard alone away from the drama of the household. It was peaceful, usually sunshiny with a slight breeze. There was nothing to do but be in total awareness of how I was positioning the clothes, sheets and towels – making sure to maximize exposure of everything so they’d dry optimally.
I wouldn’t have known to say it back then, but as I revisit those memories, I’d call this activity very zen. Zen – a word hailing from Japanese and derived from Sanskrit, zen is loosely translated as “contemplation” or “meditative state.” Yeah! That’s what it felt like… a calm and easy state of being.

Then I grew-up and got a dryer

Once I went to college, clotheslines were left behind as dryers spun into my life. Whether it was dorms, apartments, laundromats, or houses… dryers were the way. And from that time on, it appears that the custom of using dryers dug itself deeper into the American zeitgeist. In fact, there are numerous clothesline bans in areas of the U.S. (the states with the most bans include Arizona, Florida, Hawaii, and Nevada). Altogether about 20 states have some restrictions on clotheslines. Countless home owners associations (HOAs) have bylaws that prohibit your mentionables and unmentionables from being hung on the line.
The main argument against clotheslines visible to your neighbors is that they’re unsightly – compromising landscaping in neighborhoods and (gasp!) possibly lowering property values.
I have to say, from my perch in Portugal, the perspective on clotheslines is the polar opposite here… they/we don’t have to hide the fact that we use sheets and wear underwear! I like that authenticity. Of course, as you look at the the pictures here you can see that beauty is truly in the eye of the beholder … and that old, antiquated blemished buildings can (and do!) have a beauty all their own.

Anyway, sharing this with you was a refreshing departure from so much of what’s been happening lately, eh?

Did you or do you have clotheslines in your life or have even given it a second thought – it could be a generation thing, yes? I wonder. Drop down to the comments section and share your thoughts.

With Love,

Becca

P.S. I’m slowly moving back into my online emotions courses and also planning an April retreat here (more on that to come!). It’s been a crazy, unpredictable phase in my life and I’m glad to be returning to some normalcy and looking forward to being in touch with you. I now have to go hang up some clothes;)