Hope in a pair of long johns
Sitting at a road junction, the house occupies a prominent position. Traffic lights mean poising outside the front door and there is time to notice details. The garden, the curtains in the windows, the front door that looks as though it has remained firmly closed for some time, the house seems to be always quiet.
One day I noticed that there was a clothes horse sitting in an upstairs window. A pair of white long johns lay over it, perhaps they had been set there to dry in the warmth of the early spring sun? Perhaps they had been there for a much longer time? Do they still call them long johns? Perhaps there is some newer name.
The scene through the window seemed something from a bygone age, the wooden clothes horse, a style of underwear worn in former times.
The thought occurred that perhaps the scene through that window had remained unchanged for years. Had someone hung up their clothes in the un-curtained upstairs room only for it to hang there long after the washing had been finished? Was there a story of something having happened to the owner? Or was the explanation much more prosaic, was it just the case that the passing of the winter meant that the warm underwear was no longer required and could be left hanging until cooler temperatures meant that it was required again?
Successive days passed and the long johns remained unmoved from the window. The scene was unchanged until this afternoon.
Passing the house, a pair of long johns still hung on the wooden clothes horse, but it was no longer a white pair, instead, the place of the white pair was now occupied by a pale blue pair. The white pair that had been glimpsed each day when passing the house was presumably a succession of clean pairs, only with the punctuation provided by the change of colour from white to blue did the realisation come that the scene was not one frozen in time, but instead represented sustained daily activity. The owner might be amused by the thought that his drying laundry had prompted such a process of speculation.
Driving on from the road junction, there was a sense of something oddly hopeful in having noticed the blue long johns. It seemed a statement that life continued unseen through times of lockdown, that it was a mistake to make assumptions on the basis of appearances, that unexpected things could happen.
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