The only references to clotheslines made in our house are during football games. Let’s face it, we’re in the 21st century. We depend on modern appliances to help get us through our busy lives. When we turn on the tap, do we not expect water to come out? In fact, we can choose the hot or cold. Amazing. Since we have always relied on technology to provide us with the essentials of life, we do not have a clothesline at our house. That made for an interesting learning experience recently with the assignment of our clothes dryer to the disabled list.

The appliance service technician, who once would have been called the repairman, would have to order the parts in, but it shouldn’t be too long. Not a problem, we thought. It would be a bit of an adventure. Having grown up with clothes hanging from clotheslines, I was used to the idea of letting Mother Nature perform the task of drying clothes. So when our electric dryer decided to take some time off this summer, I was not terribly dismayed. After all, a clothesline with brightly colored, happy looking clothes hanging from it is a pretty sight. And, since people who hang out their clothes regularly will tell you that clothes dried outside are so much softer and better smelling than those dried in a dryer, I was almost looking forward to that April fresh smell in July. This is where the learning experience began.

Lacking a line, our clothes were draped over the lawn furniture and railings of our southerly facing deck. Luckily, it was hot and sunny almost the entire time the dryer was on the mend, so this did not become a serious logistics problem that required accurate weather forecasts, something that may have put a severe crimp in our back to nature experience.

The first lesson learned was that clothes hung on railings and draped over chairs retain the shape of whatever they dry on and folding them back into their original shape is about as easy as putting a marshmallow into a piggy bank. The next lesson learned was that the clothes, particularly the towels, when dried this way, are about as soft, absorbent and welcoming as a couple of sheets of grit 40 sandpaper. They are great for sloughing off all those unwanted layers of skin as you step out of the shower, but do little to actually get you dry.

“Any sign of those parts? I think I have done all the sloughing I need for a while” I asked casually.

“Not yet, but I’ll call you when they arrive” came the equally casual reply. It had only been a bit over a week, certainly not an undue amount of time. It would probably be another day or two, three tops. We’ll just come up with a short term solution.

Enter the fabric softener. This will help make those clothes April fresh and as soft and cuddly as the little teddy bear on the front of the bottle. After about a week, I remembered that even cute little bears have big teeth and sharp nails, and these towels weren’t much better than last week. And come to think of it, April can be a nasty month.

“Those parts still aren’t in?” There was a slight edge in my voice.

“When they get here, you’ll be the first to know,” came the equally edgy reply.

“Easy for you to say, you aren’t suffering from stiffness in the shorts.” I shot back.

“Take a cold shower.”

Do they teach that stuff at appliance service technician school?

I began questioning the extent to which we rely on technology. Our ancestors would have come up with a way around this problem. They had endured hardships far greater than this over the years. Think! There must be a solution. How can we get around this problem? Be creative!

Forget that – I want a functioning dryer!

“Where are these parts coming from, another planet? It has been over four weeks and kids are starting to retain the shape of the lawn furniture on which their clothes are being dried.” I was starting to lose it.

“Our service technician is away on vacation. Call back in two weeks.”

“Only two weeks? No problem. I’ll have lost another couple of pounds of skin by then. I might have to get my passport picture updated from the one taken when I could dry my face with soft, fluffy towels. Mmmm …. soft, fluffy towels.” I was starting to hallucinate.

After seven long, gritty weeks, the parts arrived and were installed. We were instantly transported back into our former state, one of total reliance on technology. We were happy. Our towels were again soft and fluffy and people stopped asking us if we had been sick.

But in the process, we learned something valuable. Had we become too reliant on modern day appliances? Have we lost the art of survival in a world without all of these conveniences? Drawing upon the wisdom and resourcefulness of our ancestors, who not only survived but flourished under difficult conditions, we arrived at a solution that would have made them proud: Have two of everything in case the first one breaks.