Monday, August 30, 2010

Let's head to the 'Hills'!

If I ever have the opportunity to meet Jamie Durie or one of those garden designers who makeover backyards for television renovation programmes I have just one question I want to ask and it's not 'can you redesign my patio!' I want to know why on earth they remove clotheslines from the backyards of families and refer to them as 'eyesores'. That faithful Australasian icon known as the 'Hills Hoist' invented down under, which gave years of service is uplifted and tossed into a skip. A sad end for the rotary clothesline which was invaluable for the larger family - it held many loads of washing, it swiveled so you stood in the same spot to peg out the washing, it could be hoisted up so sheets did not trail on the ground and if located in a windy spot it turned and helped dry the washing! Ingenious!

Now I know the television renos do replace the clothesline and give the family an 'out of sight' retractable or fold down line. Great thinking - they hold enough washing for the average family.... of garden gnomes! And sorry children, no more 'helicopter rides' or pretending to be superman - the Hills Hoist was strong enough to handle such treatment but this is just not possible with one of the fold down jobs!

We are living in days when we are being urged not to use dryers and the soaring cost of electricity is making more of us 'head for the Hills' or out to our line with our baskets on hip with our hip pocket in mind! 'Stop using the dryer we are urged - 'well I would but Jamie Durie redesigned my backyard and Scott Cam hoisted the Hills into the skip! And the perfect place for drying clothes in next to no time is where we now sit and sip our lattes or view our garden sculptures.

I will admit the rotary clothesline is known more for its practicality rather than its looks but as they say 'beauty is in the eye of the beholder'. Many years ago I visited a garden during an 'Open Garden Scheme' in New Zealand. One of the loveliest gardens was a rambling garden on the outskirts of a country town with hedges, pathways and a profusion of flowers, vegetables and shrubs. And there slap bang in the middle of the lawn she stood proudly - no not a statue of some Greek goddess but yes, the Hills Hoist rotary washing line!

This was no ordinary washing line, it stood in its allocated spot on the lush green lawn and was surrounded by lavender bushes which encircled it. All the visitors including myself were 'taken' by this lovely garden feature and the owner explained that she loved to stand and peg out her washing here, the sight and the scent of the lavender ushered in beauty to her day and made this domestic task so much more pleasurable. She even draped her household linen over the lavender - the scent impregnated the fibres of her tea towels and napkins as they dried in the sun.

1992. My husband holding his first son and our first clothesline on our 1/4 acre patch.
Fruit trees, a veggie patch at the bottom of the garden. A shed for dad and a rotary clothesline for mum!
The typical Australasian backyard - except we looked out over farmland being the last street in town.

I was a young wife and I was impressed! I did not enjoy pegging out washing and often resorted to using the dryer because I was tired of racing out to grab the sheets whenever the rainclouds came over - we did live in a region that had very high rainfall. Our next door neighbour was building a boat, it dominated his backyard and he had been building it for years. We called him Mr Noah and when one summer it did actually rain for over 40 days in succession I wondered whether we should be looking out for the neighbourhood cats and dogs heading to his house - in pairs!

Beautifying the Hills Hoist at this house did not seem to be worth the effort so I mentally filed away the idea for a future home. And at our next property which was in a dry region where watching the clouds was not part of my everyday domestic life I discovered there was no clothesline. So we purchased a rotary clothesline and around it my husband designed a patio with flowerbeds and a potager close by. Forget the garden furniture - this patio was for practical purposes - growing food and drying washing!

The year 2000 - picking strawberries in the potager/clothesline patio area

We decided the lavender could be a hazard and attract too many bees so encircling my new clothesline was a garland of yellow carpet roses which during summer made me want to burst into song 'Tie a yellow ribbon round the old Hills Hoist' - no I didn't sing this but have to say pegging out the washing became a much more pleasant task - I actually started to enjoy my time at the clothesline because there was something lovely to look at and I could even pick a few strawberries or harvest a bunch of herbs at the same time.

Today at Eight Acres of Eden I still have a rotary clothes line. When we moved here the only washing line of sorts was a piece of string tied between two gum trees. We didn't hesitate and went out and purchased a new clothesline. It was the first outdoor renovation work we undertook and it was considered a priority. My husband built a raised platform for it and edged it with rocks which act as steps and make the clothesline 'child accessible and user friendly', that is, the shorter members of the family can no longer use the excuse that they cannot reach the line! All of my children are on the laundry roster except for the twins - more on that in my next post but I can say that my husband's idea of building the raised platform was sheer brilliance! Or maybe just kiwi ingenuity! Clothes that are dropped do not fall onto muddy ground or dirt and pegs do not get run over by the lawn mower!

Looking towards my kitchen window.
The clothesline is tucked away to the left just hidden from view.

There is also a garden bed right here. A magnolia is the backdrop, a rose for summertime underplanted with a native groundcover - 'indigofera australis' with its delicate pretty pink flowers and a native guava which shields the clothesline from the kitchen window and a banksia overhanging the path. During winter camellias and azaleas are in flower. Birds are often found visiting close to the clothesline and I often stand in awe and look up at the towering gums above my head and think to myself 'just look where I get to peg out the washing - I am so blessed! And how many people can stand at their clothesline and sometimes spot koalas - it also serves as the wildlife viewing platform!

And as I pegged out 'little boy clothes' the other day I realized that I needed to count this task as a blessing in my life for a day will come when I will no longer have such little garments to peg out for he will have grown up and left home and I will long again for a basket of singlets, socks, sweatshirts and tiny blue jeans.

I choose not to resent this task today and simply enjoy this moment and take delight as I fold each little item of clothing and place it into the basket. I am carrying out an act of service for my family. It is my way of 'inviting the glorious into the mundane' by thanking God that I had so many lovely little outfits that needed to be dried in the sun that day that belonged to my baby boy, my gift from God.

That statement 'inviting the glorious into the mundane' is now part of my vocabulary thanks to a post at Joy's blog - the stay at home missionary (see my blog roll on the sidebar) She posted a link to a video message from the singer songwriter Christy Nockels sharing on being a mom. This is where I first heard the admonition to 'invite the glorious into the mundane' and I can testify if you start to do this it will affect your everyday life. I will put up the link to this in a separate post for those of you who are intrigued by this - it contains beautiful words of wisdom from a young mother and I am so glad I found it - thank you Joy!

I've realized I need to do this daily 'Invite the glorious into the mundane' for the linen baskets will soon refill. I am not just heading to the hills each day - my terrain is mountains - mountains of laundry. Just how do I cope? Well let's say you do not venture out alone to Everest (my mountains are big!) you go as part of a team and that is how we manage this ongoing household task. I will share some more practical tips and how I have found a laundry roster that works for us in another post. Right now the sun is shining and its time to head to the 'Hills'!

With Love and Joy,

Posted by Picasa


Allison said...

Such a lovely post! I am in awe that you get to see koalas! I can't even fathom! Although I guess that is because here in the States koalas only exist in zoos. How awesome that would be!

Tania said...

What a great post about the humble rotary clothesline.

I am the proud owner of an old one of these and spend many pleasurable hours hanging out my washing. I dont own a dryer and with our climate the washing mostly always dries even in winter. Hubby has built a line for me under the verandah as well for those days when there is rain about.

Lovely photos.

Keep on enjoying,


Enchanted Moments said...

My hills is out there going round and round as I type, getting my washing dry in no time today with a warm wind..
There is nothing like these clothes lines...x

A Bite of Country Cupcakes said...

I just left a huge comment and then deleated it accidently!!!!
I was saying....I too try and enjoy the sunshine and local roos whilst pegging away the never ending cycle oflaundry I have!
Being a cold climate I have such alot to wash,I am proud to say in three years I have not resorted to the clothes dryer though instead I suffer the unsightly-ness of three clothes horses in front of our fire day in day out for 4-5 month of the year!!!! grrrrr!!!!
My sister has 7 kids and I must ay I do wonder how big families keep up and especially with mals the amounts must bemassive!!!
You are so right to take joy from caring foryour family!!!!
Loved this post and gave me a good chuckle!! lol!!!!!!

A Bite of Country Cupcakes said...

gee,I need to slow down and check what I type!
I meant to say....
I do wonder how big families keep up especially with 'MEALS!!!" NOT MALS!!!

Ann at eightacresofeden said...

Ha ha Kylie,
With a big family I try to avoid the 'malls' as much as I can! The meals are a different matter!

SF said...

Beautiful post Ann! Absolutely loved it. :D I look forward to reading your post on rostering, as that is something I'd like to do more formally in our family also. xx

Camille said...

Such a fun post Ann! I *love* drying our clothes outdoors in the sun and the breezes. they smell so yummy when they come inside. How sweet to have all those little things to pin out to dry...I agree with you, enjoy the moment and the gloriousness (is that a word?) of the "mundane". In everything give thanks and have joy! :)


Parisienne Farmgirl said...

WOW - It's official. I am going to have to drug myself and hop on a plane and visit 8 Acres someday! It looks beautiful and you know how much I appreciate a sense of humor!
"UP" here we would call it "white trash" - at least that is what my "line" looks like, stuck into a tree and the frame of our garage door, sinking low to the ground with a full load, it is really sad but it does the trick!

Anonymous said...

Growing up the time when we had a 'hills hoist' rather than a pull out line holds the best memories. One of us up the top, the other flying around the side- hours and hours of fun there! I never mind pegging washing either, it means clean and sun (hopefully) filled clothing.

Chookie said...

I love my Hills' Hoist too, but it IS going to be moved from centre stage. And I am planning a garden around it, though without much lavender as it has a habit of keeling over in our humid summers.

You might like this old post from my blog:

Ann at eightacresofeden said...

Chookie - just read your plant profile on hoistus-hilli. Loved it! Very clever, you obviously fooled a few people. My father -in law once gave his neighbour the paddock weed ragwort potted up as a gift. He labelled it 'trowgar' and told her it was the latest exotic plant to hit the nurseries. Not only did the neighbour love the plant she even went to her local nursery and tried to buy another!

Renata said...

I love my hills hoists as well (yes we have two & often we need two during winter). I love the idea of lavender near the washing line - although I haven't done very well with growing lavender here - I think I need to check the PH of the soil.

In our last home we also had a straight couple of strands of wire for a washing line - well we changed that - we bought a hills hoist from a house next to my grannys that was being demolished - it held so much more. Thanks for sharing your lovely post & letting us 'visit' your beautiful home.
God bless

Toria said...

I seem to be the sole dissenter - I hate the look of a hills hoist as the central feature of a yard. We're in our second house now & for the second time we have pulled out the hills hoist & installed a hills paraline that folds back against the wall when not in use. This one is under cover as well, so I don't care if it starts raining when the clothes are out. And not being in the full sun, clothes don't fade as quickly, nor are they as hard when they dry. You don't need sunshine to dry clothes, you need air movement & we still get plenty of that around our line. I suppose I could stand to have a hills hoist in the yard if I had a large enough yard that it could be tucked away & not the first thing you see when you step outside, but that wouldn't be as practical as my lovely paraline.

Fruitful Harvest said...


Your a girl after my own heart!

I go gitty over clothes lines!
Your pictures make my heart dance and my spirt smile!

From the rustic ones to fancy.....I love a clothes line! :)

Thanks for making my day with all the pictures....just lovely!

I came by to say hi and that I'm off my 4 week blogin break or was it 6 weeks? It seemed like forever! Here in the USA we are heading into FALL weather now.....we did not even get a very warm summer! :(

Peace and LOve to you all,

Mary Q Contrarie said...

I do not own a dryer at all I dry all my laundry on an antique style wooden clothes drying racks. I love it. I get the benefits of air drying my clothes last much longer and it is virtually free compared to an electric or gas dryer.

I think many of the people who are in the eyesore camp. Have not started to realize that the ugliness of floods and extreme storms are increasing because of global warming. Maybe I am just weird but I sure would rather see my neighbors undies than my neighborhood ruined by an extreme weather event.

Unknown said...

Ann, What a lovely post! You have quite the laundry line history with pictures to prove it. And all that wildlife and beauty around you! I'd want to be out hanging wash, too!

I've admired the Australians for not losing site of the benefits of line drying and I can't tell you how many times I researched laundry lines and wanted to order, only to find out I would have to ship it from Australia. Alls well that ends well and I am pleased with my line set up. Thanks for sharing your history and photos with us!


Blog Widget by LinkWithin