Night Chores

The chores had to be done whether i was home or in town working. Because i used a laundry line my washing was really at the mercy of the weather. I couldn’t do laundry on rainy days and my 2 days off each week weren’t always the ones scheduled for sun. If it rained throughout my days off i would have to do laundry during the work week. This basically meant washing the laundry in the evening, hanging it on the line as the sun set, leaving it there the following day while i was at work, and taking it off the line once i arrived home. I hated to leave the laundry on the line all day as it would dry in just a few hours and leaving it there for that long would fade the colors considerably. However, it had to be done. There was no better option. I never had the desire to be a stay at home person; minding the chores carefully and holding down the fort until my breadwinner returned. I did however wonder often what men felt like when they returned home and someone had washed their laundry, made them food, and asked about the highlights of their day. Sometimes the notion that a person would be at home continuing the chores while the breadwinner was in town seemed fascinating and magical. I just wanted to be the breadwinner; not the part of the narrative that was supposed to appeal to me. But i digress…Unfortunately, in winter the days were shorter and i did not always get home before sundown. The laundry still had to be done. I would gather the wheelbarrow, the laundry basket, and my machete and go pull the laundry off the line by lantern light while the dogs played and wrestled in the dark. Sometimes you could hear the coyotes and sometimes not. I worked in a quiet and methodical manner to fold each item and place it in the basket in the wheelbarrow, both because i figured my neighbors were sleeping and i didn’t want to call the attention of the coyotes if they were off somewhere preoccupied by deer or sheep. Let them be preoccupied. Sometimes i had to rinse little yellow spots off the laundry i pulled down from the line. This was where honey bees had landed on the clothing to take a rest. Their pollen-laden legs left neon yellow marks wherever they’d been. Other times i had to remove wolf spiders from the garments before folding them and taking them in. I did my best to stay on top of things in the shallow light the lantern provided but sometimes i missed one and then we’d have a roommate for a while. I didn’t kill the wolf spiders as they were known to eat black widow and brown recluse spiders. Often when i dug up rotting tree stumps i would have to be careful to check for brown recluse as i pulled the different sections out of the ground with my fingers as they liked to hide amongst old wood and fallen leaves but i never found them above ground and i was pretty sure the thousands of wolf spiders cruising through the blades of grass, moving out of my way as i walked, had something to do with that. They were called wolf spiders because they didn’t use a web. They stalked and grabbed their prey just like a wolf running down a deer. One of our laundry hitch-hikers was a large wolf spider i called Henry. He had roomed with us in the spring. He hung out on the piece of plywood in the kitchen window under the light fixture. When moths were attracted to the light bulb in the kitchen he would appear, scurry quickly across the plywood, and pounce upon the moth, holding it until it stopped flapping before dragging it just as quickly behind the plywood in the window to dine on his prey. He was quite a skilled hunter and it was amazing to watch. But i digress again…where was i? Night laundry. Not the best. Winter wasn’t my favorite season. The only good thing about the coming of winter was a break from the scorpions. I could actually go barefoot in the tiny house when the heater was on and feel the warmth of the floor boards around the heater on the bottoms of my feet. It was just another season. All of them had their place and purpose. Next year spring would return and i would relish in the ideal weather, the ability to leave the windows open, and the lack of worry about frost on the fruit trees. Then summer would arrive bringing longer days, scorpions, and a/c unit dependence; a mixed basket of gifts that would have to be enjoyed together. Each season had something to offer and something to take. Winter took my daylight.

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