What Do You Smell & Hear?

There’s nothing quite like sleeping between fresh sheets. The sheets are so crisp and soft and clean. I luxuriate in them every time I change out the bedding.

Which brings me back to when I was a child and the sheets were washed and then hung up on a long clothesline to dry in the fresh air.

First my Granny would run them through the primitive wringer. I’d watch her use all her strength to turn that thing as she wrung out the water and brought the wet laundry out the other side.

Clothing was flattened like dough prepared for biscuits before they go into the oven. Then she’d shake the laundry and put it all into a basket.

Clothespins held in her mouth, she would lift a piece of clean laundry out and tuck it up with first one clothespin, then take the other out of her mouth and clip up the other side.

On she went down that long clothesline, the Oklahoma wind often whipping the laundry nearly dry before the sun even got a chance.

The scent of freshness perfumed the air as the dry laundry was taken down to take inside.

Then the sheets were shaken and flapped in the air, the movement disturbing dust nearby, to cover the mattresses before bedtime.

Pillowcases, embroidered with colorful tendrils of flowers at the opening, were slipped over the feather filled pillows.

With the window open in the summer next to the bed, you were surrounded by scents as you drifted off to sleep.

Flowers closing up until the sun kissed them open the following day. Honeysuckle’s sweet fragrance as the wind occasionally drifted through the vine that held blossoms of nectar.

All the scents that come with the day closing down and nightfall turning the sky black wafted in on the wind.

Freshly mowed grass. Insects buzzing.

Dogs barking somewhere. The chickens as they settled into the hen house. A train in the distance signaling it was headed through town.

Crickets. Wind blowing through the trees. An occasional car headed down the road. All the sounds that combined into the song you listened to as you drifted off to sleep.

Sit in a comfortable chair somewhere quiet and lean your head back. Let yourself go back in time. Close your eyes and shut out the sounds of here and now. And just remember then.

Let yourself drift back to your childhood home.

Your body is settling between the sheets. A window is cracked open for a breeze to lessen the heat of summer.

Open the window in your mind and remember what you smelled and heard as you lay there in your bed waiting for sleep.

What is it? What do you smell and hear?

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23 Comments

  1. Thank you for the trip down memory lane. I shared a room with my younger sister, only sister, only sibling as a child. We were 21 months apart in age. We shared a room until highschool. Bedtime was just another fun activity for us. We would talk and talk, then Momma or Daddy would yell, “Be quiet and go to sleep!” So we would whisper and talk for hours more. Sometimes she would climb in bed with me. Sweet, sweet times. I lost my sister 3 years ago to breast cancer. During her illness, I spent a lot of time in bed with her, talking the hours away.

  2. You definitely brought my mind back to my childhood days I live next door to my childhood home so I’ve lived on this land for 55 years 36 spent in my current home I have a friend that said she wonders how I’ve stayed in one spot almost my whole life except for 1 year my husband and I rented a place in a nearby town while our house was being built I told her I loved this land it’s peaceful to me I love the birds the crickets in the summer fresh sheets off the clothesline and yes even the roasters crowing at 5 am I love country life I’m the only 1 that stayed here out of us 3 girls guess I’m attached to this land and memories here in South Carolina have a great Day Brenda!!

  3. I still use my clothesline,weather permitting. And yes they sure smell good.Thank you for the lovely reminders of

    a world that we seem to have lost or forgotten in this modern place we now call our world.

  4. We had half a dozen long clotheslines in the backyard of the house I grew up in. Best memory is the smell of the sheets dried out in the sun. My dreamhouse has a clothesline.

    My grandmother had a wringer washer. She never had a dryer, hung everything on a line, inside or out.

  5. You bring back lots of memories of sounds and smells that I experienced as a child living on our first farm when I was between four and eight. Lovely sounds and fragrances to remember. Childhood–when life was simpler and serene. The idyllic years in my own life–never to be repeated, sadly.

  6. This brought back so many wonderful memories of my childhood. My mother hung the laundry on the clothesline and she would even iron the sheets ! The smell of the sheets from that fresh air was wonderful! Thanks for the memories!

  7. I love line dried sheets, and am lucky enough that I hang mine out every week. It is best right before a storm, when the wind takes all the wrinkles out and makes the sheets smell super crisp. One of life’s simple pleasures.

  8. I remember everything in your post today, we did not have much growing up but now the memories are priceless. Thanks for a great post.

  9. Your description takes me back to coolish summer mornings when I was growing up!! I so agree…fresh clean sheets…and a clean body too I add…are a bit of heaven!! I LOVE crawling into clean sheets…best sleep ever!!

  10. Oh, and I also sleep with the window open in the summer until the dogs next door bark in the middle of the night. Occasionaaly we hear an owl.

  11. Lovely memories, Brenda. I’m glad you have them and want to share them. We didn’t have air conditioning throughout my childhood so the windows were open in summer and an electric fan provided a low drone to lull my sister and me to sleep. When we were in elementary school we we re given a radio that sat on a small table between our beds. We got to listen to it for a half hour before lights out. This was when I first heard the Beatles, Herman’s Hermits, Leslie Gore and many other stars of the 1960’s. The smells weren’t always great – skunks, for instance! But we did have sun-dried sheets. I still hang sheets outside on our back porch to get that wonderful smell and feel.

  12. That song “Summer Breeze” brings back all those memories from the ’70s for me. Like that first day of Spring when you opened the window and you smelled the earth and felt the warm air on you face. The birds singing was natures most beautiful music. Don’t know why but it just doesn’t seem to happen anymore. So very blessed that I had those memories.

  13. Your memories sound just like mine, but you describe it way better, than I ever could. Thank you for that!!! Hugs to you, Ivy and Charlie from WI. Bonnie

  14. OH what a lovely post. I could feel myself becoming so relaxed in the end. You have such a way with words. My mom had a mangle! Does anybody remember those! It was in our furnished basement and in the summer it would be so cool down there. I remember seeing her pressing the sheets thru it. She was a wizard at using it.

    One of my all time favorite smells was in the autumn and we would rake leaves and then put in big fat potatoes for roasting. Oh how I loved that smell and the crisp air but most of all the treat the smoldering fire yielded. Of course that would never be allowed now.

  15. As a young child, I lived in downtown Atlanta. I loved the sound of church bells on Sunday mornings, enjoyed hearing the pigeons cooing from the buildings, and the sounds from the trolleys as they made their way down Bankhead Highway. And there was an older black man who sold produce and candy from the back of his horse drawn wagon; he came once a week and I loved hearing the horse hoofs striking against the street as he made his way to our house. He loved to laugh and gossip with the housewives and would allow me to give his horse a lump of sugar or a slice of apple.
    We moved to a more rural area for my school years and I remember the scent from the roses my grandmother planted in our side yard. There were loads of children my age in the neighborhood and I remember the sounds of us playing ball or tag. Like you, I remember the feel and smell of clean sheets dried outside on the clothesline.
    These days I enjoy the sounds of birds chirping, the ocean waves coming ashore, and the coastal breezes. I love the scent of salt air and marsh. I live near the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind and I try not to take for granted the sense of sight or of hearing. After we first moved here, I overheard one of the blind children telling her instructor that it sounded like a beautiful day!
    Enjoyed your post today; brought back so many pleasant memories. Enjoy your Saturday.

  16. I remember the cicadas in 79 the year my daughter was born,the hospital was of course surrounded by concrete and blacktop so their chirping wasn’t as noticable, we lived in a little bit country and boy were they noticable!
    Laundry needed a good shake before it came inside too:)

  17. I grew up in many places. a rather nomadic childhood that isn’t the best for children really.
    but the one sound I NEVER ever grew tired of then and now… is the sound of rain.
    cars swishing through the streets … and the very first scent of it when it hits earth or sidewalks even. and if a window can be opened just slightly… the cool clean air that wafts in.
    whether in a pine forest or flat prairie… there is nothing like the freshness and music of rain to me. my mother might have had something to do with that. she would be delighted by it too…
    “it’s RAINING! it’s time to light the corners!” and we would turn on small lamps that gave a lovely warm glow… and we’d read good books and usually make popcorn!
    wonderful sound and scent memories to me to this very day.

  18. I really think there are less crickets around now than back then. Must be all the pesticides. I remember having the window open in my bedroom in NYC (of course there were bars on the windows, yuck) and even from our teeny tiny backyard the sound of crickets would be deafening. Now, in the summer months, I hear many night sounds but the cricket sound is nothing like back then….and I have acres and acres of land around me.

    Looking forward to hearing the peepers again come spring – that’s always the most wonderful sound!

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