I have become very involved in a new book, first in a series, and it is hard to put down. At this time of my life, I should be able to just sit and enjoy this literary ride in my imagination, but I can’t seem to justify just sitting and reading.
I decided I should at least wash some laundry while I read the day away. So, I threw some sheets into the washer, followed by a heavy mattelasse coverlet. When I put the coverlet into the dryer, I didn’t want to leave it, for fear of forgetting about it where it could possibly shrink, so I just remained in the laundry room. While waiting, I decided that I may as well iron some napkins we had used at our sons birthday luncheon.
Years ago I made the decision to buy cloth napkins of various patterns and use them along with our dishes when we get company. I only buy paper products when we are having a picnic or grilling out. My reasoning was that for what it cost to buy paper products and throw them away, it made better sense to spend more money up front and reuse both napkins and dishes. People seem to enjoy using them and it makes for a pretty table. Besides, in this day and age of dishwashers, washers and dryers, and wash and wear, why not?
So, while the dryer was tumbling the coverlet, I began ironing napkins. Most of my napkins are tumble dry, but there are a few that just look so much prettier when they are pressed. As I was ironing, my mind floated back in time to when I was a little girl and I was remembering how it fascinated me to watch the wrinkles melt away under the heat of an iron. Those were the days when my Mother and Grandmother had a “wash day”
They would sprinkle the clothes by using an old bottle with a round head on the end that had a lot of tiny holes, similar to those on a watering can spout. They would shake the bottle over the linens, sprinkling them to make them moist, and then they would roll them up into cylinder shapes and put them into a basket until it was time to iron.
It was fun to watch my Mother and Grandmother pressing clothes and I was intrigued with how they steered the iron in and around sleeves of a garment or into the gathers of a skirt. Ironing was certainly an art form, and it felt good to be a part of the process even if all I did was watch. Occasionally, I would beg to iron the flat objects. Things like hankies, pillow cases, dish towels. Oh yes! Everything got an ironing at our house, even pajama’s! The flat sheets were too big for a little girl to tackle, but I sure loved the napkins!
So, here I am all these years later, still ironing napkins! As I ran the hot iron over its wrinkled surface, I discovered that I still enjoy watching the wrinkles disappear into a shiny, flat, pristine surface. Then I thought about my daughter who doesn’t iron! As a little girl, she was so occupied with modern day activities, ironing didn’t beckon her attention as it had once beckoned mine. Very few people of her generation bother with ironing anymore. They buy garments that are mostly wash and wear, or if they are not, they go to the cleaners to have them washed and pressed there. I love tablecloths, but this generation favors place mats…and restaurants. In my day, eating in a restaurant was for a celebratory event, These days, inviting people to eat in your home is as uncommon as eating out used to be. Time marches on and along with it comes change.
It didn’t take me long to iron that little stack of napkins, and the coverlet was soon ready to come out of the dryer. I am so grateful I grew up in the era of my youth. We had so much time on our hands in those days and we were captains of our own ships. As a result of that lifestyle, I learned to LOVE reading a good book, enjoyed just “being” with my Mother and Grandmother no matter what they were doing, and loved spending time in the out of doors. I was very often solo in my activities and there is a certain kind of peace that comes with entertaining oneself. To this day, I love the gift of time where I am still captain of my own ship. I do not fill my days with an ongoing schedule of people and clubs and organizations. I just let the days unfold as I once did as a child. My life is blessed because of this privilege and I know it! I often offer up prayers of gratitude that this is so.
Now….I am off to my book. When I last set it down, I was with my new friends from Pennsylvania and we had driven down to North Carolina to check out a house that Amelia inherited. It is in the process of being renovated and now we are contemplating moving in…all of us! Exciting times ahead!
copyright (9/25/2015) Juanita J. Bussmann