Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Ode to a Laundry Rack

With the month of Adar already upon us, Purim is right around the corner (Sunday, February 28), allowing me a higher level of license for levity in this post. But truth be told, this ode to my laundry rack is not entirely in jest…

Oh, Laundry Rack. Oh, Laundry Rack. You mean so much to me.
You help me hang my clothes to dry, a task most don’t envy.
But you are from the Holy Land where racks are made so well.
And so, dear rack, in this blog post, your story I will tell.

There are some wonderful Israeli products that you just can’t get here in the States. In preparation for our return to Baltimore almost seven years ago, I stocked up on neeyar afiyah (baking sheets), roasted watermelon seeds (my boys’ favorite snack) and Somo dishwashing sponges. With every visit of mine or my kids’ to Israel, we replenish our supplies of same. (We're currently out of watermelon seeds, if you happen to be heading this way...) Conveniently, these items are all lightweight and easily packable - though the seeds are a bit risky at the Customs desk.

And then there’s my laundry rack. When our lift (boat shipment of our belongings) arrived in Baltimore - six weeks after we did and two days before Rosh Hashanah - the movers scratched their heads when I jumped for joy at the sight of my laundry rack. Without it, I had been hanging things to dry on the backs of chairs, from corners of doors and on any edge, ledge or rim I could find. (The humidity in Baltimore is too high for drying things outside.) Now my beloved rack was back.

Obviously designed for families that are b’ruchim yeladim (blessed with many children), Israeli laundry racks have eight “lines” on its main frame with an additional five on each of the two small “wings” that fold out from the ends. The frame is made of sturdy metal and the lines are taut wire (making for fewer creases in the clothes that dry on them).

There’s always room for more laundry on my rack. Sort of like the Holy Temple that miraculously expanded to accommodate larger crowds on the festivals. Many of the Israeli families who rely on these racks do not own dryers. (Why invest in one when the sun will guarantee a job well done for more than six months of the year?) So the rack is essential during the rainy winter and works well in the summer, too - in conjunction with the clotheslines that run along every mirpeset sheyrut (utility porch).

I loved hanging clothes out in the Israeli sunshine. Thinner items would dry in minutes and heavier stuff in just a few hours. When one of my kids did some “money laundering” - that is, he forgot to take some bills out of his pocket before putting his pants in the wash - we just hung them outside on the rack and they were back in his pocket in no time.

Think what you will but this attachment to my laundry rack is what it is. And so, when I recently noticed that one of its wings was badly bent out of shape, I sighed deeply and wondered how I will replace it if it breaks beyond repair. It’s not as easy to bring back as sponges or baking sheets. Yet to manage without one is unthinkable. So I won’t think about it. I’ll just keep using my rack for as long as it lasts and imagine myself hanging the wash beneath the same warm Mediterranean sun that heated our water and bronzed our skin to a healthy, holy glow.
Yes, it may sound silly, but for me, hanging clothes to dry is no chore at all when it helps me to…Remember Jerusalem.