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Caught in a Clothesline

Posted by CDB Guest on 10/26/2010 to Green Living

My grandmother lives in a lovely Alexandria, Virginia suburb a few miles from Mt. Vernon. It's a wonderfully historic area, the kind that comes with its own juicy gossip dating back to the 1700's. She's fortunate in that she bought the home as a young woman and hung onto it while the military moved her around the world - and let me tell you her little neck of the woods has been discovered. One need only peek at her tax bill to understand.

Over the years her house has seen children, grandchildren and most recently some great grandchildren. They've run the stairs and built forts in the back yard. She's planted trees and watched storms take them back down again. She watched her house go from sitting on the edge of a field to sitting in the middle of some pretty spectacular builds. Her house is filled with flowers and vegetables from her own garden, food that she baked from scratch and linens that have been line dried. Recently, her clothesline has become an outdoor drying rack for the cloth diapers, prefolds and inserts worn by the new additions to the family. Her dryer - she will tell you, is for winter use only. As in, when the snow gets up over her boot tops it's time to start drying inside. She's a simple, frugal, wonderful woman - who almost got taken down by a clothesline.

Her neighborhood association recently issued her three notices demanding that she remove the clothesline from the backyard. Naturally, she questioned it. After several rounds and competing notices they reached a point where they were forced to define a change in the neighborhood by-laws. No permanent outdoor fixtures without a permit. They actually stood outside while the clothesline was removed.

Never one to go down without a fight, grandma applied for a permit and was granted permission to build a wooden pergola. It's gorgeous, grand and after it was built, the neighborhood association reps offered quite a bit of praise and admiration. Had they looked a little closer and perhaps more carefully, they might have noticed an intricate set of hooks and pulleys in the beams. Grandma's pergola doubles as a very nice clothesline. The best part, she will tell you with a wicked twinkle, is that they did her a favor. It's a much shorter walk and the clothes are much closer to the lilac bushes.