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Wednesday, June 6, 2018

The Word 'Wash'

After two winters spent in the high desert, the word immediately conjures up for me not an image of wet laundry on a clothesline but a dusty, river-shaped opening through scratchy mesquite. The dry wash. Arroyo. “There were mule deer down in the wash this morning.” On some maps, washes (each, like a river, with its own name) are called ‘canyons,’ but that word to me still means something larger and much grander. 

I do hang my washed clothing and table linens and towels out on a line in the backyard, and sometimes I recall years when I only  dreamed of being at home to do such a thing, but I did not then imagine doing it before the sun came up, as I must often do these busy days. I did imagine chickens pecking around in the grass at my feet, and those chickens’ presence I still have to imagine.

‘Wash’ makes me think also of watercolor, an art medium I will never attempt, content (and sufficiently challenged) as I am with pen or pencil. I am happy, though, that others dare the mystery and chance effects of a watercolor wash.

“Wash that man right outta my….” How I loved singing and acting out that “South Pacific” musical number! 

Dishwasher. I have never had one. Instead, I am one. On good days, washing dishes is a meditative activity, something my hands do while my mind is free to roam. 

‘Washed-up’ is not a good way to be, but treasures may be washed up on shore by the waves.

The sun washes over a field of green wheat, waves of grain rippling dark and light in the spring breeze.

Laver. Se laver. Lavar. Lavarse. Je me lave les mains. And in Spanish? It does not come as quickly, and I wonder if it ever will.

Washed away, carried away, swept away — gone from here but gone altogether or simply deposited somewhere else? Edith Piaf with her new love, sweeping (rather than washing) away the old. In another French song, however, waves wash away footprints in the sand: La mer efface sur la sable….  

Washable. Temporary. Evanescent. Mysterious.