As those of you who know, here in Madrid it’s either hot and dry OR it’s cold and dry. So whenever it rains, snows (like MAYBE once a year – and only a “dusting” at that), or even gets cloudy, it makes the news. Today’s one of those days.
Today, Monday, the clouds and threatening rain are making news not only on the news channels, but also in my own household! How often has it happened that after a perfectly sunny weekend it then gets cloudy on Monday and calls for rain either late in the day or in the following days. Usually, those rainy weather forecasts never come to fruition. If it does rain it’s better if it rains during the week than on the weekend when we’re all out and about, but I need to get my laundry done – and I do it on Monday mornings! Again, oh, sure, why not change the day since the laundry gods seem to have it in for me? Good question. I have my reasons.
Our rooftop has about 8 lines available for laundry hanging. In the summer when it’s hot, laundry can dry in less than 30-minutes as it’s literally like a solar oven up there. I love drying clothes in summer. It’s so fast and easy. But you don’t want to spend more than a few minutes hanging or taking down laundry as you’ll either go blind or get sunburned. I always go up there with my sunglasses on, but I don’t put on suntan lotion – although I should. In the wintertime it takes longer, of course. Today, it’s about 48ºF/10ºC, cloudy, and VERY windy. The wind dries the sheets quickly, but those thick gym socks and jeans take all day long.
I’ve already taken down the sheets and the thinnest of clothing after 5 hours in the wind, but left the socks, jeans, towels to dry – with an ever weary eye on the sky as I work at my desk, just trying to catch those first sprinkles on the window so that I can dash upstairs to retrieve what’s left.
What do I do then with the still-wet clothes? In the winter, in the afternoons/evenings, we have the heat turned on from about 6pm to 11pm. It’s then that I’ll drape the socks and still-damp clothing over the radiators for the last drying. The jeans, too, but one pair will occupy an entire radiator and they’ll dry within an hour, depending on how wet they still are, of course.
On some winter Mondays, if I awake with two loads of laundry and an all-day-rain, I’ll still wash the clothes, turn on the radiators, and hang them throughout the house. Not only are all radiators covered, all dining table chairs have T-shirts and pants draped over their backs and seats, the 2 clothes lines in the shower are full, the 1 clothes line on the terrace is full, the bed has things hanging off every corner, the sofa too. And I’ll even put some button-down shirts on hangers and hang them from anthing I can find including the ceiling lamp! It’s quite a sight, let me tell you, and barely anywhere to sit!
You know, coming from the USA where everyone dries their clothes in clothes dryers, whenever you’d see an outdoor clothes line full of clothes you’d think those people were poor – or Amish. You kind of pitied them in a way. In Spain, as you might know, nearly everyone air-dries their clothes. And now that I’ve been living in Spain for 7 years and visiting for the 10 years prior to that, I actually like seeing clothes-lines full of clothes. It kind of warms my heart. “That’s a home,” I’d think. Your typical Spaniard will tell you that there’s nothing more natural than air or sun-dried clothes as they smell so good and require no out-of-pocket expense to get them that way. This is great and it also has absolutely no environmental impact whatsoever – apart from the visual one, of course.
More and more new residential buildings are getting creative about how they can both allow outdoor clothes-drying and hide them at the same time. The “terraza”, or the clotheslines outside the kitchen or bathroom window, are often covered by alternating vertical planks-to-space-to-planks in order to hide the drying clothes behind them while still allowing air to circulate. Other newer buildings, those which are 4-sided communities built around a central patio or plaza, allow clothes hanging facing the patio, but not facing the street. On those rare occasions where the building is a tower and has no central patio and clothes are not allowed to be hung outside the windows facing the street, residents have no choice but to dry their clothes in electrical clothes-dryers or hang them on indoor lines or on portable foldable hanging racks, usually occupying an entire room and creating a damp, humid environment. That’s not so nice.
By 4pm today it started raining just a bit and I hadn’t noticed immediately. By the time I got up to the rooftop the floor was nearly complete wet – and so were what was left of my clothes hanging on the line! So imagine the inside of my house now. Imagine…