Tag Archives: Fox Lake

Riding in Cars with Dogs

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On the way home from work on Sunday afternoon, faced with the balance of the day plus two days off, my mind runs through the possibilities.

I considered bringing some plants home, the sorry, leftover specimens that have been too long in their starter pots: tomatoes, peppers, cabbages and eggplant. Could I dig up a patch of garden yet? What about that sweet peach tree, with tiny fuzzy fruits already on its branches? How nice it would be to spend the day in the garden! I sensibly – though with remorse – talked myself out of it. Too much to do, to allow myself to go off in another direction.

The entire lawn needs mowing, but the back yard – that didn’t get done last week – is desperately in need of it. I brought home 50 feet of rope, with intention of restringing my clothesline.  It was a nice warm day with a slight breeze: a good day to wash sheets and dry them outside! A good day, too,  to shake out the rugs and open all the windows, give the floors a good sweeping and get the cobwebs out of the corners.

I have several hours (days??) of writing and computer work to do. I have stacks of notes from meetings and interviews to turn into stories. I have others to edit and organize. There are letters to write and phone calls to answer. The subscriber database always needs updating as the checks or changes of address come in the mail. I need to set up a filing system for advertisers, and bill out the classified ads. If I were to get all of that done in a timely fashion, my taxes are still waiting to be filed.

The studio, yes, a dozen things to do there, and the back closet where I started sorting seasonal clothes, and the kitchen cupboards to get ready for the new counter top, and weeding, dead-heading and watering the flower beds…by the time I got home, I was exhausted just from thinking about it!

The dogs greeted me when I got home. I made a sandwich, and wandered the yard while I ate it. It really was a beautiful day. Chance of rain or thunderstorms for Monday.

“Do you want to take a ride?” I asked.

Darla jumped up from where she was laying in the grass. Rosa Parks gave a series of yips as she ran for the car. I grabbed the can of mosquito repellent, my camera, a book, and one bottle of beer.

“Let’s go!”

Darla jumps in first, and takes the passenger seat in front. Her posture is impeccable as she sits tall watching out the windows. I pick up Rosa Parks and take the driver’s seat. Rosa scrambles across to position herself on my lap, with her nose out the window, her chin resting on my left arm. Darla smiles benignly across at me, to let me know that she believes that spot on my lap should be hers, but that she’ll make the sacrifice.

It’s one and a half miles to Fox Lake, down a barely traveled, narrow gravel road. The breeze is nice. Every now and then, I point out a bird or squirrel or chipmunk. If they were on foot, they’d be very interested. Riding in the car, they pay no attention to the wildlife. They know when I come to the drive that leads down to the lake. They murmur and shake in anticipation. If I accidentally drive past it, they turn to look back. Still, they each politely hold their places until the car is parked, and I open the door to let them out.

The lake is an adventure unto itself, with water for wading and new smells to investigate. For me, it’s an hour of blissful relaxation. The ride home is a repeat of the trip there, only in reverse…and more damp. No matter what’s on the to-do list, riding in cars with dogs is an excellent way to spend an afternoon!

 

Sky, Water

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“None of them knew the color of the sky.”

So begins Steven Crane’s short story, “The Open Boat.” It’s a story of survivors of a shipwreck, clinging to life in a small, open boat on the ocean. It is based on true events; the author was one of the passengers in that small boat. His first line speaks perfectly to the hopelessness of the situation…to not be aware, even, of the sky.

The broad expanse of sky brings me calm. At my house, surrounded by woods, to appreciate the sky, I have to crane my neck. That detracts from the soothing effects of sky-watching. To get the long view, on this fairly flat, wooded island, it’s best to go to the water. There, the vision stretches to the horizon, and sky and water work their magic.

Yesterday seemed a long, hard day for me. It was busy at the hardware store. My day was interrupted only by trips to the post office and the bank, and to make a quick delivery. After work, I filled a couple newsstands with my magazine, then picked up a few groceries. Rounding the corner to head out of town, I saw a customer approaching the door of the hardware. I stopped.

“Do you need something?” I asked.

“Yes! I do. I thought you were open until six…”

I turned off the car, and opened the hardware. We looked for a prescription for her cat without success. We found the right bags of food for each of her dogs. I rang up her purchases and helped her carry them to her car.

Home, I let the dogs out, then unloaded the car. My thermos and coffee cup, one box of groceries, one stack of mail. I put away the perishables, changed shoes, doused myself in mosquito repellent and headed back outside.

A little weeding in the flower beds, then I pulled the mower out of the shed, filled it up with gas and fired it up. The grass was growing wildly fast, and the front half of the front yard had not been cut yet this year. Rain had slowed my efforts to work at it each night. If I didn’t get to it soon, it would take something much larger and more powerful than my little push mower to tackle it. I’d see how much I could get done.

I start by mowing a swath around the perimeter, then work my way inward, around and around. Up the north side of the property where the big maple trees grow, to the curved edge that runs along the little woods in front of the road on the west. Across the driveway, to catch all the stray grass that grows there, and along the edge of the small side yard. Down the south border to the rough un-mowable patch by the shed, then turn and go back across the driveway at the other end. When I come to an obstruction – tree, rock, tree stump or fire pit, I go around it with the mower, and from then on, go around it in ever-bigger circles each time I pass. What starts as a loose rectangular course with curved sides soon morphs into quite a different pattern. Always different.

Eventually, the smaller lawn on the south side of the driveway was complete. I had a large circle of mowed grass around the fire pit. That left a long hourglass shaped section of tall grass yet to  be mowed. The dogs got up from their resting places and moved toward me in unison. They each seemed to sigh as they flung themselves dramatically in my path.

Okay. It was after seven o’clock. The dogs usually eat at around six-thirty. Their day had been long, too. I turned off the mower and put it away.

“Ride?” I asked.

They both thought that was a good idea. Windows down to the summer breeze, we drove to Fox Lake. I parked the car and let the dogs out to run.

I stand, facing the lake. Let my eyes rest over the water where the far row of trees meets the sky. Lazily follow the slight movement of the clouds. Breathe in; breathe out. Let the cool breeze carry the tension away. Feel shoulders relax, worries drift away. Think only, “sky…water…” and hopelessness is gone.

 

 

 

First of June on the Fox Lake Road

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The wind was strong all day yesterday, putting a chill in the air though the sun was bright. It made shaking out the rugs an easy task, as long as I stood away from the dust storm that ensued. Sign painting was a messy job, out in the open air. Mowing the lawn was an adventure, with grass clippings, dried leaves, pine chips and sand flying every which way. Aunt Katie – who chills easily – was bundled in layers to sit on her porch to do her gardening. Fox Lake, when I took the dogs for a swim in the evening, was so active I almost expected to see whitecaps topping the waves!

Despite the chill, we are seriously moving toward summer, now. The sun is up so early, it fools me into thinking I’ve overslept. I rush out of bed in guilt and panic, only to find it’s not even seven o’clock. It stays bright later into the evening, too. I keep thinking I’ll take advantage of the extra daylight to get more yard work done…but my energy fades long before the sun sets.

We’ve had a little rain, but it’s still awfully dry. It was a mild winter without much snow, so we started this spring with less moisture than usual. I’ve been saving my burnable trash, waiting for the fire danger to be eased. It’s getting to be quite a big amount, in a box in the corner of the laundry room. I may have to break down and haul it to the transfer station with my garbage and recyclable trash.

My strawberries are still white, but if the birds leave them alone, there will be a good harvest. If we get rain, I’ll have a few more pickings of rhubarb before it’s done. I found six perfect asparagus spears last evening, and ate them raw. The snowball bush is loaded with pale green – soon to be white – globes. The iris are opening in the side yard. Peonies – three, at least, of my four plants – have many buds. Lilacs are in full bloom, and fill the air with their sweet perfume.

And that’s how it is, on the first day of June, out on the Fox Lake Road.

 

Two Days

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Monday and Tuesday are my days off. This week, as always, I had big plans. I was going to give my house a good cleaning after getting caught up on all the chores, clean up the yard and mow the lawn, work in the garden, finish the next issue of the Beacon, write letters, pay  bills, do some long overdue paperwork, get into the studio, play with the dogs, do a little reading, of course write every day and (big drum roll here, please…) catch up on my rest.

Monday, I was out of bed at 6:30. The dogs were fairly frantic, afraid that I had overslept. They couldn’t be convinced otherwise…might as well get up. I got my writing in early, over morning coffee. I ran a sink full of soapy water and did up the dishes I had neglected the night before. I worked my way through two big loads of laundry.

Time, then, to douse myself with mosquito repellent before heading outdoors. I finished moving a big pile of pine chips that the tree trimmer had left on the lawn. They are handy for keeping weeds out of the front walkway, and as mulch around strawberries and Rhododendrons. Still, I wish I had thought to ask him to leave them somewhere off the lawn. As it was, they had to be completely moved away before I could mow.

I moved two chairs and a bench off the lawn, picked up a half dozen dog toys, a few sticks and my clothesline pole. I raked the leaves from the back flower bed, from the north side of the house, from the rosebushes in front, and from around the cherry trees. I gassed up the mower, then cut the grass in the back yard to the fence line and the side yard up to the shed. Those areas are closest to the doors I use most, and are filled with fast-growing quack grass that harbors mosquitoes. They had to be done first.

Hot and exhausted, I walked the dogs, next, then did some paperwork inside during the hottest part of the day. Later, I went back to weeding, watering and mulching in the garden. I intended to finish mowing the grass, but it was almost dinner time. I opted for a shower, and a quiet dinner. There was always Tuesday.

Between dinnertime and bedtime, I gathered photos and typed a short article for the news-magazine, wrote to my daughter about a couple formatting issues, took a phone call, and watched on episode of The West Wing on Netflix.

Tuesday, I let the dogs out and back in at 5:30, then managed to sleep in until eight o’clock. Two phone calls alerted me that the contractors were coming to the hardware store today, to set up our new paint rack. I wanted to be there, as paint is my department, so I scheduled it in. Coffee, writing and  bill paying were next. I then went through old blog posts to find some to use for my radio broadcast, and wrote Kevin to schedule that in. I went through the draft – sent in a PDF file – of the next Beacon and made notes for changes and corrections.  Outside with the dogs, then in to take a shower and get ready to drive to town.

My first stop was the hardware to print out the writings I’d use for my Island Reflections, then to the Post Office. The bank was next, then to McDonough’s Market to replenish their rack with Beacons. A short visit with Sue, at her little gallery, then on to the Community Center to do my recording. I finished just in time to make it to the hardware to meet the contractors and watch the installation of the new color display. Back to McDonough’s Market, then, for a few groceries, and on to Aunt Katie’s to do her floors.

Home again, in time to take the dogs down to Fox Lake for a romp, then supper, more paperwork, then bed.

Two days are never as long as they need to be, for the things I want to fill them with!

 

Adjustment

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One week ago, I brought Darla home to Beaver Island. I didn’t want a second dog for my own sake, but rather to enrich the life of my little dog, Rosa Parks. I knew she could use more exercise; I felt she’d be happier with a dog that – being of the same species – would understand her better than a human could. One veterinarian explained to me that only another dog would have the same acute senses of smell and hearing, and so would be able to share their experience. It all seemed very sensible at the time.

Well, we are all getting used to each other. No matter about shared experience, it seems that both Darla and Rosa Parks think they’d prefer to be an only dog. They relate to me – the human – better than to the other dog; they both love me…but are still deciding whether they even like each other. They vie for attention whenever I’m around.

They do relate to one another, though. When one hears a sound, they both erupt into fits of mad barking. When one pees, the other one runs right over to pee on the same spot. Sometimes that goes on so long, I wonder where they continue to come up with the pee! When one finds an interesting smell, the other one rushes right over to investigate. When one needs to go outside, the other one follows.

Darla is obsessive about food. She is mild-mannered most of the time, but takes issue when edibles are in the picture. Rosa Parks is an instigator. She’ll bark to announce the invasion of a bird, snake or chipmunk, then sit back while Darla does the chasing. Together, when they are getting along, they seem intent on mischief. It’s as if they are a couple of teen-aged hoodlums, forming a gang.

At Miller’s Marsh they sat together on the shore, barking at a flock of geese in the water. At Iron Ore Bay, where the smell of fish is in the air, and the beach is covered with seaweed, they both developed acute deafness. Neither one could hear me call, when it was time to go. Yesterday, with Darla for back-up, Rosa ran right toward the road, intent on chasing a car. Rosa has never been a car-chaser!

Just like with children, a second one is not twice as difficult; it’s more like ten or twenty times harder. The whole dynamic changes. I think we’re going to be fine…eventually…but right now, we’re all still adjusting.

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Unexpected

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Have I become too predictable?

Me, the most inconsistent person on the planet?

My friend, Kathy, is cultivating the unexpected in her life. If she thinks to herself, “I can’t go for a run, it’s pouring down rain,” she will gear up and head outside for a run, just to surprise herself. Whether an experience she never imagined she’d like or an activity she isn’t drawn to, she’ll try it because it’s unexpected. She’s an inspiration! Doing things that our psyches are not prepared for gets the nerves tingling, the heart racing and – in the fairly safe and predictable world we live in – that’s a rare and good feeling.

Inconsistent is a little different. It means that even though I know I do better if I avoid coffee in the afternoon, I may drink it anyway, just for sport. It means that I can’t be counted on to be at my job at the same time each day: sometimes I’m there on time; most days I’m late. Sometimes I skip lunch to make up for it; sometimes not. I’m supposed to go to Aunt Katie’s to clean on a particular day and time. I play fast and loose with that, too. Sometimes I respond to letters and phone calls; sometimes I don’t. Inconsistent, in my case, means unreliable.

Yet, amazing to me, I have been very consistent in my writing. This year, I’ve been posting a blog every day, usually first thing in the morning. Even the subject matter has become predictable, with “the 52 lists project” on Sundays, “timeout for art” on Thursdays, and moving from one past address to another on the days in between.

Today, my day off, I had a ten o’clock meeting in town. I had bookkeeping to do before I left the house, so that I could go to the bank. It was my day to clean at Aunt Katie’s, so I scheduled that in, too.

The breakfast meeting was thoroughly enjoyable as my friend and I caught up on business and other things. Other friends joined us and the conversation broadened to many topics of interest. I stayed longer than I’d planned. Still, I made it to the bank before they closed, to the post office and then the hardware store, to take care of a couple matters. Next, my aunt’s house, for my duties there. She has five newly hatched baby chicks in the back room off the kitchen, and I took time to snap a few pictures. Home, I had to make a couple calls, and do a few household chores. Before settling in for the evening, Rosa Parks and I took a drive down to Fox Lake.

It was after I returned from that outing that I noticed the light on the answering machine blinking. Two messages, from two different individuals, making sure I was okay…as they hadn’t yet seen my blog today! Maybe I need to shake things up a bit, so folks don’t worry if I’m not on schedule. “Unexpected” may be the order of the day!

Springtime, Fox Lake

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march2016 128It may have been simply my own feelings of sadness, in anticipation of leaving my little dog for a week, but I thought Rosa Parks looked downright depressed on Sunday.

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Though it was chilly, I suggested a walk. Rosa loves the idea of a walk. She leaps from her bed at the suggestion, bounds to the door and leaps into the yard. However, this time of year, her allergies to almost every growing thing are at their worst. Though she’s on daily medicine to suppress the symptoms, as soon as we near the end of the driveway, she starts shaking and scratching her ears. Sometimes she pushes through, though later her red ears and watery eyes inform me that it’s not easy for her. Most spring days, she sits down, and refuses to go on.

When that happened Sunday, we got in the car, instead.  The snow has melted and the roads are in pretty good shape. After this mild winter, we aren’t dealing with two feet of mud or flooding issues this spring. We would go have a look at Fox Lake!

The landscape had changed over the winter. Many birch trees have fallen; undergrowth is higher than I remember it; the second drive in was overgrown with brambles. I twice drove past the drive down to the lake! I, who visit it two or three times a week, in season! When I finally found the drive, I was still in doubt. I didn’t want to pull in and perhaps find myself unable to turn around to get back out. I parked at the mouth of the drive and we walked.

Rosa Parks recognized right away that we were in the right place. These are her old stomping grounds! Her allergies don’t seem to aggravate her near the water. Fresh smells are everywhere. She set off ahead of me, madly wagging her tail.

She checked around the latrines, then sniffed around the stone-bordered campfire site and the picnic table. She examined the shoreline for anything that might have washed up. She peeked under every upturned boat. We followed the noise of ducks and geese, along the trail as far as possible, then through the trees and brush to the hidden, shallow arm of the lake, to see where the birds were swimming. On the way back, Rosa tested the water herself. It was a good day.

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Presents/Presence

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I made it through another birthday.

I am still here.

The longer I live, the more it seems death is all around me.

All of my grandparents are gone, though their stories still guide me. Both of my parents are gone; I seem stubbornly unable to get used to that fact, and still enjoy their influence in many aspects of my life. Of eleven brothers and sisters, there are only six left. I miss the ones that have died, and cherish the ones still here. That’s all I can do.

At my class reunion in July, it was noted that a full ten percent of our graduating class had passed on. Another member died this week. In every case, I think, “Oh, so young!” I am, of course, remembering them as they were in high school.

I guess I’m not “so young” anymore. That is made clear every time a friend, acquaintance or family member dies. It’s always too soon and I am never prepared. It may even, age-wise, be a bit below the average life-expectancy…but, clearly, I am now in that age where loss of contemporaries is a big part of life.

It seems the only thing to do, while I’m still here, is to truly be present in this world, in my life.

Early birthday celebrations with my family and friends brought good wishes and cards and gifts: books, bags and bath salts, bottles of wine and a bottle of Bailey’s Irish Creme. Later, an annual birthday dinner with my cousins provided much laughter and good cheer, and more thoughtful presents. There were cards in the mail and hand-delivered cards and messages. A complete birthday meal, fully prepared, wrapped and delivered by my friend, Pam, to be reheated at dinnertime. Over one hundred birthday greetings on Facebook. Telephone calls from each of my daughters and from one grandson, each one a treasured gift.

There have been unexpected presents. I was invited to attend a benefit dinner, held at a stately old island home. We dined on lobster and steak under a beautiful evening sky. I received a big bouquet of gladiolus from two nice ladies who accepted a ride to the grocery store with me. A big, flowered bag was hanging on my doorknob the other day, filled with treats and treasures and a thank-you note. It was from my neighbors, who have a rustic cabin in the woods, and – with my blessing – draw water from my well when they are on the island. None of the gift-givers knew it was my birthday week!

There are other gifts:

  • My little dog, who wakes me with kisses, and greets me at the end of the day with a wildly wagging tail, who entertains me, keeps me company and makes me laugh every single day.
  • A doe and her twin fawns, who I often see at the end of the Fox Lake Road.
  • The wild blackberries ripening in the fields around my house.
  • Fox Lake, a short drive from my home, where the dog loves the smells, and I love the view.
  • My aunt, who struggles with health issues but is still able to share stories, opinions and memories from her long life.
  • A job that supports me, and gives me a feeling of accomplishment. I would never have predicted that I would be capable of tasks like cutting and threading pipe, making keys and mixing paint, and that I would get such satisfaction from the ability to do them.
  • Other jobs that enrich me: artist, baker, cook, gardener, writer.
  • My big, blessed family.
  • My friends, far and near.
  • My home, shelter in this world.
  • The moon, last night, in that deep blue sky.
  • The big owl that nests nearby, perches on my fence post, and spreads his wings to fly when I come home after dark (and who, thank God, leaves my little dog alone!).
  • The sunrise every morning and the sunset every night.
  • This beautiful island in the middle of Lake Michigan.
  • The beach all around, with stunning views all year.

These are the gifts that I tend to take for granted, that go too often unnoticed or unappreciated.

It seems the best thing to do, while I’m still here, is to truly be present in this world, in my life.

My Year of Adventure

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I’m not an adventurous person.

I am cautious to a fault, easily intimidated, afraid of the unknown and nervous about anything new.

I am shy. Crowds can be difficult…but so can smaller groups or even one on one conversations.

I don’t learn new things easily, especially if they involve speed, dexterity, coordination or mental agility.

I have to function out in this world, so I work at it.

I have managed to get married, have children, learn to swim, learn to roller skate, go to college, move to Beaver Island, learn to wait tables, get divorced, move to the city, go to graduate school, teach, open a business, write, display my art…in that order. Every one of these things terrified me but made my life better. Every one was worth the risk, made me feel enriched and capable.

Still.

By most standards, none of these “grand achievements” are much out of the ordinary.

I have had my moments, though.

I have had what I think of as “my year of adventure.”

It was about twenty years ago.

It started with heartbreak: a relationship ending.

After working on my marriage for fourteen years only to see it fail anyway, I wasn’t much for working on relationships. I had worked on this one though. We both had. Yet we each stubbornly held on to collected slights and resentments until the joy was gone.

And that was what I couldn’t live without.

So, I braved the heartache and moved on.

In that new open space, for a short time, I seemed to face the world differently.

I didn’t think of all the things that could go wrong. I simply asked, “Why not?”

I went for an airplane ride at dusk, to see the sunset from the sky.

I paddled a kayak out into the harbor.

I took a trip on a twenty-nine foot sailboat, as part of a three-person crew, from Beaver Island’s harbor down to Port Huron…five days and five nights on the water. In October. With a head wind all the way down Lake Huron. When my sister picked me up in Port Huron, I had lost ten pounds. “It was like bulimia camp,” I told her.

I traveled alone, to work on an archaeological dig on Grand Turk Island in the British West Indies. I met a dozen  people of all ages from all over the United States, there to participate, as I was. I met islanders who in many ways were like my own Beaver Islanders. Stopping at a bar one night, a very slim black man with a lilting British accent admonished us, “You didn’t salute…,” for not waving as we passed him on the road that day.  On this island, you’re called to account if you neglect to wave, too. I collected adventures there, and every night ran down to the ocean at sunset, in hopes of seeing the green flash as the sun sank into the water.

Back on Beaver Island, I went for a ride in a bi-plane. The passenger seat was in front; the pilot sat behind.  We could communicate through our headsets.I was strapped in tight. The cockpit was open to the air. We started with a big forward somersault. As the nose of the plane started to go up, I closed my eyes. Vertigo, like you feel if you close your eyes when going up in a swing, had just started to make me queasy when the pilot said, “Do NOT close your eyes!” He’d been the captain on that sailboat…he was familiar with me and motion sickness! The somersault was followed by a couple barrel rolls and a spin of some kind, then we went for a scenic tour of the island. Above Font Lake, I saw Mike McGinnity down below, in his kayak. He looked up. Without thinking, I threw out my arm to wave. The wind caught my arm…and pulled it. Hard. It took all of my strength to retrieve it. “Keep your arms inside the cockpit,” came the curt directive from the pilot.

I took a new route on my evening walk, ending up lost for hours in the woods and swamps behind Fox Lake.

I didn’t make a decision, ever, to stop having adventures…to quit asking, “Why not?” Even when things did not go as planned, I felt daring and brave.

It seems that things just gradually settled down…opportunities did not present themselves.

I carry that year with me, though, and I’m proud to know that inside of me – meek as I am – lives an adventurer!

Summer Wash-a-Day Blues

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I love the look of clothes hanging on a clothesline.

Not everyone does.

Even here on Beaver Island, there are communities that have banned them.

Happily, that’s not the case at my home, here on the Fox Lake Road.

I threw out my dryer a few weeks ago.

Lord knows, I had gotten my money’s worth out of it. My husband and I bought it – used – for fifty dollars back in 1979. Lately, it had been sending out a fine mist of lint every time I used it. It took me a while to figure out where all the dust was coming from. It took me another great while to do something about it. I might still be putting up with it, if the laundry room floor hadn’t started sprouting mushrooms.

My washing machine was leaking.

I had noticed dampness around the base of the washer whenever I did a load of laundry. I assumed the leak was from a hose. Because the washer and dryer sat side by side, the only way to access the back of either of them was by pulling them straight out. I can push a great deal of weight, but to pull either appliance straight toward me was not possible. There was no place to get a grip. There was no room to do the zig-zag push and pull technique that I employ when moving the refrigerator. I worried that if I were able to somehow manage it, I’d displace the hoses so that I’d be unable to diagnose the problem anyway. I was equally afraid of upsetting the vent-work for the dryer.

It didn’t seem like that much of a problem. A little moisture, a bit of dust.

Then summer came.

With summer came my granddaughter, Madeline.

Madeline, who loves painting and gardening and beaches.

Who is not above climbing trees or playing in the mud.

But who (heaven forbid!) cannot possibly wear the same outfit twice, ever, without laundering it first, can’t use a towel more than once, must dress appropriately for every occasion, whether it be a trip to the ice cream shop or an hour in the garden and firmly believes our dining room table needs a fresh tablecloth at least every second day.

I’ve had considerably more laundry than usual.

My laundry room floor started growing mushrooms.

One day, when Madeline was at day camp, I dismantled part of a shelf support in order to move out the dryer, so that I could get behind the washer to try to fix the leak.

It turns out, I had bigger problems than I had anticipated.

The moisture put out by the washing machine was much more than what was evident from the front. The particle board floor under both appliances was spongy, wet and rotted.

As far as I can tell, the hoses are all intact and working fine. The – reasonably new – washing machine seems to be leaking from the base.

The back of the dryer had bare wires and missing panels and was harboring enough dryer lint to be a huge fire danger. It should have been replaced years ago. I retired it immediately, better late than never.

Since then, we’ve been drying everything on the clothesline.

I’ve always used the line for drying sheets and blankets, rugs and sometimes towels…when the weather was warm. Other clothes get too wrinkled, I thought. It was impractical to try to dry everything, with my work schedule, I insisted.

It turns out, it takes a bit of forethought and discipline, but it’s really quite possible. Enjoyable, even!

Madeline has become quite expert at the process, too, and helps with the hanging out and folding. She insists that we’re saving hundreds of dollars this way.

Her amounts may be an exaggeration, but I’m sure we’ll see a difference in the electricity bill.

Still, there have been a few rainy days where I’ve watched my clothes dripping on the line and wished I had a dryer to make my life easier.

And we’re not yet into the cold weather.

For now, though, having clothes hanging outside to dry seems just right.