Sunday, September 12, 2010

White Handkerchiefs



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.

7 comments:

Dorothy said...

I ironed creases out of a new t-shirt this morning and loved slipping it on while it was still warm and soft. Almost like getting a hug!

Wouldn't it be nice if some of the "wrinkles" in our lives were that easy to take care of? :)

JuliaKoponick said...

I agree with Dorothy. Sometimes when the wrinkles in our lives get really big, it is nice to have manageable tasks that we can do and be satisfied with. When I was folding all the towels last night I think I felt some of the same satisfaction. :-)

Annemarie said...

I love all the sensory images in this post. I used to iron my dad's handkerchiefs when I was younger . . . for the same reason. It's a simple task that relaxes me, and it ends with a tidy pile of folded cotton squares.

I was thinking, too, that in some ways ironing for Mark is a way you can show you love him. I'll bet you thought about him several times while ironing his handkerchiefs. Maybe even prayed for him.

Hooray for mindfulness. 'Tis a good thing in all its many forms.

Polly said...

Maybe we need to get you some hankies of your own. :)

Mike said...

I have to admit I like to iron, but with our busy schedules ironing just gets tossed aside.

when I was staying with Mom, she would iron my shirts. She always takes great pride in making sure I don't have wrinkles.

When I was the USAF, I had to iron everything especially in basic training. I remember ironing my hankies in basic training with a extreme amount of starch so the top one would look best. Of course, you never used that hankie it was only for show.

So, I need to to find an iron and ironing board now that we have a nice size laundry room where ironing can be done without getting in the way of someone else. Who knows, maybe even my wife will learn to iron?

JuliaKoponick said...

You can iron as much as you want my love, I think given recent developments, I may never learn to iron. lol

Josh said...

Yes, grandpa Mark let Ethan use one of his fabulous hankies while we were visiting. :) They are very useful. And, although I've never ironed a hankie... I'm feeling like I'm missing out on something after hearing your thoughts about them. Maybe I'll have to try it sometime. :) Love you! (Oh, and ps... this is Hillary. I'm on Josh's account for some reason. haha.)