Cequels by Cynthia Burton 

It was a hot June morning in Northwest Missouri. The sky was blue with no clouds in sight. The young girl in blonde pigtails carried a basket full of laundry to the back yard. The family pet bounded from his dog house, wagging his tail furiously (if dogs could smile, his would have been an ear-to-ear grin). She set the basket down, pausing to hug the sheep’s tangled mass of black and white fur. His brown eyes peeked out from behind long bangs. His wet, black nose caressed her suntanned legs. “Good boy! Good dog, Sleet!” she exclaimed. She reminded herself to retrieve the just delivered Meadow Golf from the metal milk box when she finished her chores.  The heartland air was sweetly perfumed with the aroma of pink peonies. The freshly mown green grass was fragrant, cushioning her bare feet like a soft carpet. She picked her way carefully toward the clothes line, avoiding bees hovering in the clumps of clover. A climbing rose bush had wound its thorny vines snugly around the sturdy clothes lines pole, offering respite for cabbage butterflies and ladybugs. A bed of zinnias burst in vibrant shades of orange, pink, yellow and purple. The towering lombardi poplar leaves rustled as robins chirped merrily from the boughs. 

She turned her attention to the striped bag on the clothes line bulging with wooden clothespins – time honored “tools of the trade.” She began hanging the smaller items first – socks, tea towels, washcloths – steadily working her way down to the bath towels at the bottom of the heap. As she clipped each item in place, the laundry was transformed into a colorful cloth tapestry of all shapes and sizes, flapping gently. The cotton sheets billowed, as if they were inhaling the very breeze they danced upon. The warm sun and lazy breeze created a pure, wholesome scent that couldn’t be bottled. 

Like her mother, grandmother and great-grandmother before her, the girl embraced the family ritual of hanging laundry on the clothesline to dry. The pastoral act itself harkened to a nostalgic time that pre-dated e-mails, cell phones and instant messaging; back when you knew your neighbor’s name (and their kids’ and dogs’ names too); a time when the front porch was THE place to socialize over an iced tea; a time when computers were the stuff of folklore. 

She hung up the last towel, tucking the laundry basket under her arm. Sleet ran to her from the street, excited  from just chasing a car. “Come on, boy! Let’s play!” she said. He raced away toward the clothesline and she chased after him.