Frank O’Connor, the legendary Irish writer, once took his mother on holiday to Switzerland. One morning, as they viewed a spectacular mountain valley from the tour bus, O’Connor asked his mother what she thought of the view. “It’s wonderful,” she said. “It would be a great place to dry the washing.” I’ve had a similar response from my own mother when we’ve driven through beautiful scenery on a sunny windy day – a day like today.
Recently, when the weather was sunny and warm, she suddenly said to me, “This would be a great day for drying blankets.” Her friend added, “But it’s too late in the day to start now.” They reminded me of the mothers who stood on their front doorsteps in late June and admitted, when talking about the weather, “I haven’t even done my blankets yet.” Those were the years when June was dull, wet and cold: those were the times when the heat of the July sun and the strength of the summer wind meant so much to ordinary women.
Drying washing was once an enormous worry so the sun and the warm wind were a great comfort and help. Even now I know how to make my mum happy so when she asks me, “Have you had a good day?” I say, “Great Mum. I got two lines of washing dry.” Her satisfied, knowing smile keeps me going for days.