Growing up my mom kept a lovely home for our family. Perhaps my young mind was slightly jaded but I remember our home being clean - very clean, and free of clutter almost always. It wasn't unusual to find her on her hands and knees scrubbing floors and base boards, or using a special vacuum attachment on the blinds on a regular basis. But one of my favorite memories of her was hanging our washed linens outside on the clothesline to dry. I remember the big basket hoisted expertly on her hip, the well worn notch of a woman who carried four babies over the span of ten years. She'd haul that basket outside and put it down in the thick green grass, sweet smells from her flower garden, the resident citrus trees, our neighbor's grand magnolia reaching over the fence into our yard with it's majestic blooms, all mingling in the air. Using weathered wooden clothespins, she'd hang each sheet, each pillow case, each bath towel and kitchen towel, each cleaning rag. Once hung, a symphony of color, texture, scent would gently billow in the breeze while baking in the heat of day. Then she'd disappear and it would be just me, the lizards, birds and bees, and I would run in and out of the canopy of sheets until I could run no more. Those were the best days - the days when our sheets were dried on the line - because it meant you were going to have the most wonderful sleep in the whole world that night.
My mom still keeps a lovely home so maybe my child-like mind wasn't that far off in how I recall those olden days. It is the kind of home that invites you in and says, Come in here. Leave your dirt studded clogs at the door and put your feet up. Be in here. This way of hers is not to keep up with the neighbors or portray an image, it never was. She's a simple woman who loves taking care of house and garden. She works hard and knows when to quit. And then she slips her well-used and loved gardening gloves off and trades them for a glass of cool white wine on her shady, hot porch. Always has. Although she does laugh a bit now, saying that the older she gets the less she cares about a clean house. I'm not entirely sure I believe her though! Of course she still hangs her linens outside to dry next to her wall of sunflowers buzzing with big hearty bees, bluebirds fluttering about, and not because she doesn't own a dryer but because to her this is how you take very good care of your home and those who dwell in it.
I don't keep a home as free of clutter and tidy as the ones I grew up in, that is for sure. Not even close. But I do try to keep a home that upon walking through the front door whispers a message similar to hers, which is to live simply, work hard at what you love, take good care of your loved ones, and most importantly know when to call it quits for the day and let yourself relax, and create a space that you feel really good about to do all of that.
Just recently I told my hubby that it's time for a clothesline in our yard. What a delight it would be to have my little ones grow up with memories of running between the sheets under a bright blue sky on a warm day, padded in our tended gardens bustling with growth, followed by settling down to clear, crisp dreams at day's end.
She will greet her seventieth year this year. Next month I will greet my thirty-seventh year. Between the fading sun and rising moon each day I seem to find more of her in myself. And while I put my feet up and enjoy a glass of wine at twilight these days, I think about adding two hens to our yard. When I told her about this idea recently she laughed and said what a hoot it would be to see Theo and Sully with chickens. Then, no doubt, she hung up the phone, poured a glass of wine, put up her feet, and thought, What a mess to clean up! Why would she ever want to do that?