Thursday, 1 March 2012

Linda does the laundry, a memory from the old hippie days.

This blog was inspired by a TED talk that my daughter posted in Facebook, which in turn was inspired by descriptions of doing laundry by hand by a brave friend who lives off grid.

The TED talk is here.

Thanks to Linda for permission to use her pictures and post this.

The scene is the house that John and Linda built, a beautiful sturdy log dwelling that is still lived in and loved, albeit by other people. Descriptions of the place can be found in Stuart McLean's book "Welcome Home". It has stories about five small towns and Nakusp is one of them. I don't care how many times the house changes owners, for me it will always be John and Linda's place. McLean even mentions that the house was built by "one of the original hippies". Yup.
The time is the early eighties. Much has happened since then, but just for now, let's ignore all that and step back for a glimpse of daily life in the bush in that era.....
The picture above is John and Linda with their firstborn, must be 1977. 
I enter the house on an impromptu visit to our friends and almost neighbors, toddler Sander on my back in the pack. We are still all living off grid, so I couldn't call ahead. The trail through the woods is a pleasant ten minute walk. The first thing we notice as we enter is the STEAM. The place is full of it, we can barely see. The heat is stifling, but there is a blast of fresh air each time John comes in from outside with another pail of water.

Piles of clothes in various degrees of done are everywhere. Laundry will take most of the day, and is only done every few weeks. At the end of the day the two clotheslines outside, so long that they span the clearing, will be full of flapping colour.

Huge pans of water are heating on the wood stove. In the middle of the room stands the washing machine: a tub on legs with a wringer, and a long handle that is moved back and forth to work the agitator. Linda is working the agitator, dressed sensibly for the occasion. Which means to say, she is gloriously naked. 

Ah....the good old hippie days. 

If the Grid fails one of these days my young friend will be ahead of the game. But in the mean time, let us celebrate the washing machine!