Saturday, April 03, 2010

The rhythm of the week

I'm fascinated by the ways household work has changed over time. Today I had a laundry revelation.

I've never done laundry without a washing machine, but for the last five years or so I haven't used a dryer. In summer you can do the whole operation in a day, but in winter, the routine is more like:
Day 1: Get home from work, put laundry in machine. Put on your coat and hang the laundry on lines outside. Laundry freezes.
Day 2: Laundry slowly dries, going straight from solid to gas.
(If snowing or raining, insert more days here.)
Day 3: Take the laundry in.

I just realized the reason for ordering the days of the week Monday: wash day, Tuesday: ironing day, etc, ending in Saturday: baking day and Sunday: day of rest. Baking is something you want to do right before you need it, so the bread is fresh. (At the Orthodox Jewish preschool where my mother worked, all the other teachers left on Fridays at noon to get their baking and cooking done before sunset.) But laundry is unpredictable. If you want clean clothes for church and can't work on the sabbath, you'd better start your laundry well in advance.

There's an English song about it:
'Twas on a Monday morning
When I beheld my darling
She looked so neat and charming
In every high degree
She looked so neat and nimble-o
A-washing of her linen-o
Dashing away with the smoothing iron
Dashing away with the smoothing iron
She stole my heart away.

It continues with hanging her linen on Tuesday, starching it on Wednesday, etc. until on Sunday she's finally a-wearing of her linen-o. This has always begged two questions: Where was she going so fast with that smoothing iron? And what was she wearing the rest of the week? No wonder he found her so charming!

No comments: