Some things are a nagging mystery to me.
1. Why, after years of home-educating my sons and scouring about for questions to ask, do I finally have plenty—now that they’ve graduated?
2. Why do people spend so much time wondering whether the chicken or the egg came first? Or why a chicken crossed the road? In an election year, it’s rather shocking to pass a knot of adults on a street corner having a serious natter about the habits of poultry. And yes, I realize “serious natter” presents a contradiction of terms. You see? It’s a day for mysteries, and it’s a mystery to me why I juxtaposed those two.
3. And my most recent, most burning question: Why, when both my sheets and my towels are 100% cotton, do my line-dried sheets grow soft, snuggly and fresh, while the line-dried towels grow stiff and stubbornly snuggle-resistant?
T-shirts? Soft. 100% cotton. Blue jeans? Stiff. 100% cotton. Unmentionables? Shush!
What do I do when I have a burning question involving a Life Mystery? I do what I taught my student/sons to do. I researched. I discovered there are several camps concerning dryers and lines.
Camp One is opposed to using dryers and claims that if you use less detergent, pour vinegar in the rinse water (never fabric softener!), and shake your laundry vigorously before hanging on the line, the items will be tolerably soft. You will be environmentally responsible.
Camp Two suggests using vinegar in the rinse water, shaking vigorously, hanging laundry on a breezy day, bringing it all in while slightly damp, and using the Air Dry feature of your dryer for the last 5-10 minutes to fluff it all up nice and soft. This is considered fairly green.
Camp Three says, “Seriously?” And throws the whole load into the dryer. A nod might be given to vinegar replacing fabric softener. But who has time these days to run outside every fifteen minutes to see which items are slightly damp, and bring them inside in shifts, as they get there? And what about bird bombs? And allergens clinging to fabrics that will come in close contact with sensitive noses?
I could find no answer to my basic question as to why 100% cotton sheets grow soft when hung out, while 100% cotton towels grow stiff.
But while I researched, the clock ticked away. And though I righteously jumped on Camp One’s wagon, I thought better of it, and I joined up for Camp Two. Until I reconciled my day’s schedule with the clock. I said, “Seriously?” Tossed some white vinegar into the rinse dispenser, and threw my towels and my jeans into the dryer. After all, the birds are flying bombing raids and the breeze is laden with pollen. Camp Three’s lookin’ good. In which camp are you?