When I was a kid I was often Mom’s partner in the weekly sheet changing. As the clean sheets were shook out into the bed they released the dried-out-of-doors smell. We both breathed deep. I knew when I climbed into bed that night it would smell the same.
When the bed was completely made I lay on the bed. Mother stood there shaking her head with a smile on her face. As we went from room to room I christened each bed with a trial run. After I got up I had to re-fluff the pillow and make everything look nice again but it was worth it.
Mom finally got a clothes dryer. She dried everything in it for a month or two and then, gradually used it less and less. Soon breakfast cereal was stored on top. She used it to fluff almost dry towels or if the weather was bad, but really, it became the cereal storage shelf.
When Mom died, all of the out-of-town family stayed at Mom and Dad’s. Every bed was used, every couch made up with fresh sheets and blankets. The day after the funeral, as we were loading sheets into the washer, I told my niece, Lezlie that even after Mom got a dryer she hung all the sheets on the clothes line.
“You're kidding," Lezlie said. "Why?”
“She loved the smell of sheets dried out of doors. And she was thrifty,” I said.
“Hum,” Lezlie said, a little frown forming between her eyebrows. Her mom always used the dryer and so did I. Lezlie had never "pinned" clothes on a line.
I went upstairs for another load of sheets and towels and to tidy the bathroom. It took me awhile to get back downstairs as I kept finding things that needed to go in suitcases.
When I got to the back porch the washer was empty and Lezlie was gone. The dryer was silent. I went out the back door and peered through the breezeway.
I saw several pink sheets, hanging next to white pillowcases embroidered with blue flowers. The wind was playing tag around them as I saw a yellow sheet being hung with weathered clothespins.
“What are you doing,” I called to Lezlie.
She peered around the sheets with a grin on her face. “This is what Grandma would do,” she said. “She liked sheets dried on the line.” She paused for a couple of seconds. "And I like what Grandma liked."
I grinned back at her. "Me too."
I always will.