Mother, may I go out to swim?
Yes, my darling daughter.
Hang your clothes on a hickory limb
But don't go near the water.
This of all verses sums up best the inconsistency of messages I received as a youngster. It also makes me wonder about the countless other 'mixed messages' that as an adult I feel bombarded with daily.
It's true that a number of cities and municipalities have bylaws outlawing the use of outdoor clotheslines. Many of these same communities urge us to be responsible citizens by being conscientious consumers of energy and resources.
Although using a clothesline saves money, energy, and helps our laundry to smell fresher, keeps our whites whiter (thereby eliminating the need to use harsh detergents and bleaches), and helps our clothes to last longer and show less wear, aesthetically it doesn't have the same appeal as an architecturally manicured backyard consisting of 2.5 trees, a barbecue and a patio umbrella.
One of my neighbours has three vehicles parked in back that he has ignominiously stripped for parts but somehow that doesn't offend the bylaw officers as much as my hanging laundry on a clothesline does.
To get around the bylaw, I've just done away with the clothesline entirely. I counted four houses on my block today that still have Christmas lights hanging from eaves and trees, and one even has a sadly deflated Santa mercilessly slumped over a fence, so I see no problem hanging my delicate unmentionables from the branches of my caragana hedge. In my opinion, it's a welcome sight to see the fruits of my labour and know that the fresh outdoor air is a far healthier alternative to chemically-scented drier sheets (another entirely unnecessary 'item for consumption' conceived by business magnates seeking higher market shares).
I'm sure if Miss Amy Vanderbilt was alive today she would agree, "It certainly has our attention."