10 Nov 2013 As the World (and Washing Machine) Turns
Fall may be my favourite season, but what’s really amazing is that seasons exist. No matter where you go, they’re unavoidable. As humans we fight against them, adapt to them, and ultimately survive them. During my travels I’ve learned to adapt to survive. When it comes to doing one of the most mundane and necessary chores ever, my adaptation has been especially difficult: laundry. Adapting my laundry to different seasons has not always been dignified, but always worth it.
One season I experienced for the first time in Japan is the rainy season. It’s not the type that brings deluge 24/7, but does get pretty dreary. I was amazed at how the weather could be so consistent for so long, and also at an unexpected downside: the difficulty with laundry.
The apartment my husband and I lived in consisted of a kitchen, a bathroom, and one bedroom. There wasn’t much room for the washing machine, let alone a dryer. The balcony barely had enough room to stand in front of the washer to hang wet clothes on the clothesline.
Hanging our laundry outside to dry had been hugely successful in the summer. When the rainy season came, it would be wetter after hanging on the line that when it had come out of the washer. We decided to solve our problem by hanging our laundry inside.
Using our ingenuity, we rigged up multiple clotheslines inside the apartment. String was tied up close to the ceiling and strung across the room, attached to anything that wouldn’t fall over. Loading it up with laundry, we had solved one problem but created another: we now lived in a damp and smelly laundry-maze.
After two months, rainy season ended and our clothes returned to the outdoor clothesline. Our tiny space was liberated at last! …Until next year.
The rain made it difficult to dry our laundry, but when I looked out at the trees, enjoyed Japanese gardens, or caught a glimpse of the sunrise through the peaks of a misty mountain, I knew that without the rain I wouldn’t be enjoying the beautiful green scenery. A damp, crowded apartment was a small price to pay for such an amazingly lush setting.
The summer season in Canada is unbelievably short and cool compared to a tropical country. It’s wonderful to leave winter’s chill behind and escape to a place where summer is hot. Unfortunately this kind of escape doesn’t allow your body time to adapt to the heat.
When my husband and I travelled to Guatemala, we decided we would rather be hot and uncomfortable than in unbelievable sunburn-pain. We wore long pants and long sleeved shirts.
We didn’t get sunburned, but we did leave a swath of stench behind us. Or more precisely, a ball of stench in our backpacks.
Ziplock bags came in handy for sealing away our nasties and separating them from our (relatively) fresh clothing. However, like all carry-on luggage travellers, there came a time when we ran out of clothes: it was laundry time.
Our guesthouse offered laundry service, and we needed it badly. As we emptied our stench sacks out of our backpacks to consolidate into one laundry bomb, I considered how embarrassing it was to have such filthy clothing. Some of our clothes were so wet it was like we had gone swimming in them…but we hadn’t.
As we handed over our pile of laundry to the man at the desk downstairs, I watched his face for a reaction to the giant, gross mess we had just given him. Before he said anything, we both turned and fled up the stairs back to the room. We consoled ourselves with the thought that they probably get similarly awful laundry from other guesthouse visitors.
When we got our laundry back the next day, it was clean, and folded, and wonderful.
The heat made it unbelievably embarrassing to hand over our laundry at the guesthouse, but not needing a sweater at night, enjoying tropical fruit for breakfast, and relaxing on the beach were more than worthy trade-offs for my pride.
No matter where you live, seasons are a part of your life just like laundry. I’m grateful that seasons exist, and that humans are so good at adapting. Myself included.
About the Author: Heather Sinclair loves traveling, cooking, and scuba diving. She currently works as an engineer and writes when she can find spare time between playing soccer, doing yoga, judging poetry slams, and P90X.