Rules & Rhythms

October 26, 2021


This morning my beloved husband announced he would need to do laundry before he could get dressed. In two hours he had the clothes he needed. In Ireland it takes almost three hours just to wash clothes in our new machine.

I was sitting in the kitchen of our Irish cottage one morning when a horrifically loud bang from the washing machine got my undivided attention. That night a man came over to give the machine last rites. Fourteen years was the life span and it was time to get a new one. There are more distant and perhaps less expensive options, but I chose to go into Gort to the only appliance store in the village as I prefer to give my custom to the locals. 

In the small shop there weren’t many choices but since I am totally unfamiliar with European appliances I was happy to take the advice of Regina, the woman in charge. I purchased a machine she has and is very happy with. When I commented on the wifi symbol on the machine, she told me it’s very handy to be able to load the machine and turn it on when the weather looks good. Because in Ireland, where very few have clothes dryers, doing laundry is very weather dependent. It’s all about being in tune with the natural rhythms of nature. And there are guidelines for this. These rules excerpted from a blog post of An Irish American Mom, as she names herself, are beyond perfect.


My mother’s mother, and her mother’s mother, and the whole long line of mothers who have gone before me, were expert sky watchers. Weather watching is a long lost skill. My ancestors knew the exact shade of Irish grey which inevitably foretold rain. 
My Skibbereen granny would say – “Look to Mount Gabriel for rain.” When the mountain appeared closest, rain was on the way. Or maybe it looked further away, when a downpour threatened. I wish I had paid better attention to her weather warnings.

The fresh and airy scent of sun dried clothing just off the clothesline is amazing.  But let’s face it, a rain free spell is required. So only hang out the wash if a few dry hours are guaranteed.

Efficiency is key. Try to line the clothes up so that each item does not require two pegs, but instead each adjoining garment shares one peg with its neighbor. Now this may seem like a silly rule, but trust me, if rain is coming and getting those dry clothes off the line in double quick time is essential, then you’ll be extremely glad of your peg economy. 

Never leave your wash on the line overnight. Dark skies can bring any kind of weather, and who knows you might awaken to wet, soggy laundry in the morning. I don’t care what the weather lady says on the television. She’s wrong most of the time, and she has no clue when Ireland’s infamous scattered showers are going to scatter their love around the country.

And what happens if the rhythms of nature are misjudged and the rules aren’t followed? Damp clothes are then draped over every radiator in the house. It’s a dance. One I am now very familiar with. Ah…dancing with the rhythms of the natural world. 

Judith –