It is a cool morning and the early morning sun is blazing through the kitchen windows. The sink faces these windows. It is quiet. Peaceful. The bitter cold water runs into the double basin sink, filling one side and then the next. There is a job to be done.
I grab the overflowing laundry basket from my bedroom and hold it against my hip as I head to the sun-soaked kitchen. I am pretty sure that when I die there will be a permanent indent on that side of my body. I drop the basket with a satisfying sound onto the floor and start sorting the items into piles. The socks and other small articles go immediately into the water-filled sink. Shirts, pants, diapers, diaper covers…..everything gets sorted. Right now the piles are overwhelming and my arms scream in the anticipation of the ache they know they will feel in an hours time.
I grab the soap and inhale. I love the smell. It is familiar. I am not even sure why. My mom didn’t use this soap. Did one of my grandmothers use it? I am not sure. The only thing I know is that the smell calms me.
I grab my mom’s washboard and plunge my hands into the icy water and I start scrubbing. Each sock is cleaned, dunked and tossed into the other side of the sink where clean, clear water awaits. My arms move without prompting. I have done this enough that my muscles know what to do. I don’t even have to think about it and before I know it I have finished the multitude of socks. I drain the dirty, soapy water and move to the clean socks that are waiting to be rinsed out. Swish, squeeze, plop. The socks are tossed into the other side of the sink that is now empty.
Once each sock is rinsed I drain the water and start over. My hands are red, raw and aching from the piercingly cold water. I put them under my arm pits to warm them before starting the shirts.
I look into the mudroom where the washing machine is gathering dust. It taunts me. It’s Energy Efficient status just can’t hold a candle to the washboard though. The machine is only used for blanket, sheets, and towels. I look away from the tempter and plunge my hands back into the frigidness. There is a job to be done.