The scent of a memory

I don’t iron.

Living out of a bag for over 2 years when at times water, especially hot water was the ultimate luxury. I realised very quickly that clothes that could be washed and dried quickly and worn again were essential. My going out wardrobe became a collection of items that came to no harm scrunched up at the bottom of a pile. During that time I lost the habit of ironing and I have not found it.

Today I found myself ironing not clothes curtains, and immediately the smell of the searing heat on cotton brought back memories.

Coming home from school, to find my mother in the kitchen working through a pile of ironing. Once we counted seventeen shirts, and the room was full of that freshly ironed smell. I’d lean on the counter and sip my tea and we would exchange the details of our days. Our narratives accompanied by the thump, swish and hiss of the ironing.

Each shirt had a rhythm and a routine, one front push the iron between the buttons, half the back and pick up the shoulders, the other back half, the second front, sleeve one and then its cuff, sleeve 2 and the cuff and finally the collar inside and then out and then put the shirt on a hanger. Working through the pile of garments until the last items, the handkerchiefs we done. They were ironed as the metal cooled down into neat rectangles. Thump, swish, fold, thump, swish, fold again.

As I iron my curtains I realised that I have had the board I was using since my student days. I remember late one night ironing my favourite skirt dry before I went on holiday. Taking my tasselled, hippy skirt with me was essential to a successful time.

Ironing fancy clothes for nights out; ironing more mundane items for the ever day.

The board came with me to the next life and there I adopted the shirt routine making it my own and paying heed to the handed down advice “if you iron them when they are still a little damp, they come up far better and it is a lot less effort”. I ironed work shirt, skirts and even t-shirts but no handkerchiefs, tissues had take over by then. I got better and would iron close to my fingers streaching the fabric to get the maximum smoothed run. At times I would run my hand over the hot fabric where the iron had just passed and flinch as my fingers were scorched.

The board has come with me from house to house and been stored when I am away and it’s still good enough, especially for a non-ironer.

There is something soothing and satisfying when the ironing goes right and as I came to the end of my task and set the iron to one side to cool. I wondered if I would start ironing again.

Then I remembered that there are far more useful and important things to do with my time and that board always nips my fingers as I fold it away.

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1 Response to The scent of a memory

  1. ElPapa says:

    I still have problems with the handkerchief rectangle.

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