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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, June 2, 2001

One more good thing about Hawai'i

By Mike Leidemann
Advertiser Staff Writer

The simple pleasures are the best ones. A small home. Someone to love you and someone to love. A warm dog. A cold beer. A clothesline.

Actually, I admit I never thought of the pleasures of clotheslines until my friend Lori Ann Gordon started singing their praises. Now I keep my eyes out for clothes flying in the back yard or waving (probably illegally) from some high-rise balcony.

"I must confess my personal experience with the clothesline came late in life after moving to a house with a clothesline and no dryer," Gordon admitted.

"After trying it, I became a convert. Hanging clothes takes a few minutes (unless you want or need to make a work of art out of it), and clothes, including towels, dry in an hour. Towels acquire a wonderful stiffness as they dry, which feels terrific against the skin. And they are absolutely sanitized by the sun, much more so than clothes which are dried in the confines of a musty machine.

"An Italian friend of mine told me that when he was young, his family dried sheets on the ground and they acquired the scent of sage and grass. What a treat it must have been to sleep on those sheets."

Clotheslines are especially suited to Hawai'i, where we have lots of sun and great trade winds and the underwear never freezes on the line. That's the practical side, but there's more, too.

"While out there I have seen some of the great and timeless dramas of life unfold," said Gordon, a landscape architect. "I have seen myna bird couples fend off the neighborhood cat who tried to make a meal of the baby bird who fell out of the nest. The birds would shriek and dive at the cat, eventually running it off every time.

"While hanging clothes, I have seen and experienced the magnificent flowering of the corn plant, whose flower is exceptionally exotic and fragrant, and overlooked.

"I have come to anticipate the arrival of the golden plover, a small bird that flies nonstop from Alaska to Hawai'i, and back again in the spring. When it arrives its plumage is a motley brown color. When it leaves it bears a striking stripe of black and white ... I'm always sad to see them go.

"Our clothesline has a plumeria tree which covers a portion of it. This is useful for hanging Lycra surfwear and the like, which doesn't like or require too much heat."

Of course, the clothesline is an energy saver, too.

"How logical to take advantage of this resource," Gordon said. "Now, if we could only convince the millions of denizens of sunny California of this logic. But until a chic/hep spin can be put on hanging your clothes out to dry, this simple idea no doubt will be lost upon them."

Mike Leidemann's columns appear Thursdays and Saturdays in The Advertiser. Call him at 525-5460 or e-mail mleidemann@honoluluadvertiser.com.