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An early Saturday morning and I can already hear the clattering and swooshing coming from the kitchen.

Mother has moved the washing machine into the middle of the room and run the tub full of water, added the detergent, and the whole house sways with the rhythm of an agitator’s motion.

Pretty soon, we’ll drain the tub and as we’re doing that, we will feed the sheets, towels, pillow cases, t-shirts, underwear, dresses, pajamas into the smooth brown lips on the side of the tub and fall into a different rhythm as the clothes and linens move forward and the flavored water squeezes out the pores.

Now we’ve refilled the tub with clear water and returned the loads for a good rinsing. In a little while we’ll repeat the wringing and be ready for the hanging, on a long tight wire across the side yard, and the drying, in the crisp morning air that will turn warm from the afternoon sun.

While I am waiting, during the intervals of washing and wringing and rinsing and wringing again, I have my favorite feast of toast and grape jelly. How many pieces of toast can an eight year old girl consume in a wash day? Enough so that whenever she does the laundry four, five, six decades later, she craves toast and grape jelly.

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