Most days the washing line has nothing on it. I cannot help but look at it; my eyes are drawn like a magnet to the empty washing line. A pang of sadness hits me. For over a quarter of a century, when I saw washing pegged on the line, even if it was raining, blowing a gale or the weather seemed grim, I knew that the day would improve and that my own washing would be able to be put out later to flap about in the air to dry.
My neighbour would be out early morning pinning her laundry on her washing line. In bad weather she wore a coat with a hood which was pulled over her forehead. Then she would go off to work. She always got the weather patterns right. There were few days in the year when the flags of sheets, towels and clothes were not there.
Her husband and family were involved in the local youth football team training and playing leagues. At least twice a week there was a sunny backdrop of eleven or twelve bright yellow jerseys and black shorts drying off. They'd be a credit to any washing product that a detergent manufacturer produced. What a great poster advertisement the football team kit would be, mud free, clean as a whistle and ready to go again.
When the grandchild came into their lives, the washing line was decorated with interesting baby clothes for the third time in its existence. This was in addition to the usual laundry and the football team's practice and match apparel.
Our neighbour died earlier this month.
Yesterday when I glanced over, I was happy to see lots of domestic washing pegged on the line. It was comforting. Until it was no longer being actively used, I had no idea just how potent a metaphor for a life the washing line was.