Piling Up
By: Karie-Lee Sutherland

They say you can recognize a lady by looking at her hands.  I think a better indication is to get a look in her laundry room. Laundry is like life, you know.  Sometimes it piles up on you.

            Being a kid is when you have it made in the laundry department.    Coming home from school, finding a pile of fresh-scented, neatly folded laundry - you knew your mom was thinking of you while you were gone.  Laundry on the floor was "no biggie.”  Once I fell out of the top bunk in the night; laundry on the floor saved my life.  Back then, the only possible worry about laundry was having the good underwear on in case you were ever in an accident and had to go to the hospital.  Holey underwear would bring disgrace on your entire family.

            Growing up, however, and being in charge of the laundry brings a whole new perspective to the matter - a new meaning to the term "sweating the small stuff". 

            Laundry on the floors is no longer acceptable - I am not a paid housekeeper, you know? My children think a pile of clothes in the floor is tidy.  I tell them heaven only knows what's growing under there - a hive of rodents could make a nest and eat right through the carpet.  This does not alarm them.

             I try to keep after it, but no matter how many baskets of laundry I put in, the gathering loads are like an oncoming army of stinkiness, overwhelming my resources.  I am fluffing, folding, fretting, but never ever finishing. Another wave advances.

            I have never seen the bottom of my laundry bin.  Well I did once, but it wasn't pleasant; stuff accumulates down there.  Stuff that little boys collect in the pockets and cuffs of their pants - pretty pebbles, half-eaten cookies, what you hope is pieces of garden mulch, inexplicable bits of kitty litter. 

            But there are other things buried beneath there as well; good intentions, broken dreams, missed opportunities - the important things in life that you lose track of while wasting your imagination on crummy counter tops and the fuzz on your ceiling fan.  Heaps of meaningless business obscure our aspirations, and hopes and dreams and get lost under the chore of day to day living - too often forgotten before we have a chance to discover them again.  Time to write a poem, hunt for pirate treasure, or to see a whale in the clouds gets used up making sure all the grass stains have been removed and every sock has a mate.  For every load taken out of the dryer, another three get thrown in the basket.

            Next thing you know, all the pirates have sailed off to college.

The laundry will let up I suppose, but then I will have to take out the garbage myself.  With nobody there to mow the grass, my dreams might well be stuck in the laundry forever.

            That's it - today is the day. I will dig out those dreams, dust off the lint of delay and distraction, and dedicate my best energy to the pursuit of the goals too long obscured by mounds of smelly socks and towels.   In fact I will get started on that right away… as soon as I finish this next load.

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East Fork:

A Journal of the Arts​​