Sunday, September 12, 2010
There is something I love about my husband's white cotton handkerchiefs. He is one of those reliable men who always has one is his pocket. I tend to use Kleenex, but there are times when no tissues are available, and Mark is always willing to share his hankie.
When I have a really bad cold, and my nose is raw from being rubbed by tissues, I raid Mark's hankie drawer. His handkerchiefs are always softer than the tissues.
Tonight, folding laundry, I set all his hankies in a separate pile and pulled out the iron and ironing board. When I was a little girl, ironing my father's hankies was the first ironing task my mother set before me. I must have been six or seven years old. I remember the pride I felt, by the time I was ten (maybe a little younger?) because I was skilled enough at ironing to be able to iron my dad's shirts for work. Tonight I ironed handkerchiefs again.
In our permaprest world, no one irons shirts any more. No one irons hankies. No one knows what it is about smoothing the iron over the white cotton, watching the wrinkles disappear. There is something so regular about that white square, all smooth and ready for folding.
I only iron hankies a couple of times a year. Life is full of busy things, and the hankies work just as well with a few wrinkles. Mark is happy with them straight out of the dryer. But every time I do iron hankies, I wonder why I don't do it more often? It is such a simple, straightforward, satisfying task.
Maybe the world seems a little more manageable when it's reduced to a square of white cloth, ready for folding. Maybe the act of ironing handkerchiefs takes me back to a child's satisfaction of learning to do an adult task competently. Maybe it's just the smell of the warm cotton cloth.