Simple Pleasures: My Sister’s Washcloths

Washcloths are fairly uniform in size and shape, but their qualities beyond that are sometimes overlooked. They can provide an invigorating, sensual ten minutes of eyes-closed, skin-tingling pleasure. Or a dismal, nose-wrinkling moment when picking up a stretched and frayed cloth headed for the trash.

Call them washcloths, facecloths, or flannels, these simple woven or terry-cloth squares have a remarkable diversity. And the choicest, most sublime in texture, symmetrical and intricate in pattern, perfectly balanced between rough and soft, are the hand-crocheted washcloths from my sister. These simple white squares are the epitome of modest perfection.

The linen aisle of any department store has stacks of rainbow-hued washclothes. Some years back they were dark forest green, chocolate brown, deep navy blue, claret and white. Then spa colors reigned. Seafoam, aqua, sage green and white were the colors of choice. Now we are back to chocolate brown, but we call the same color espresso, aqua has become deep turquoise, paired with orange, and, as always, there is white. My sister has gifted me lime green, mango and ivory cloths. But it is a pure white one I select when I want to escape into my leave the world behind personal spa.

I have enjoyed mineral massages and vigorous salt rubs, been wrapped in seaweed, spread with mud, and dozed sleepily in eucalyptus-scented steam. I love the complete abandon of a spa visit. My mind is on hold, and the most effort required is to roll over. Even for that gentle hands are there to help. I will continue to indulge in these self-absorbent delightful treatments when time and budget allows. But a few minutes in a hot shower with my sister’s pure white squares are every bit as satisfying.

What a simple, wonderful pleasure. I stand under steaming hot water, a bar of homemade, not too sudsy soap in hand. It is redolent of pine or grapefruit, or something slightly astringent and not too floral, as is my preference. And I scrub. This wonderful cloth goes between toes and behind ears. It makes my skin tingle, wakes up those surface capillaries. It is invigorating and deeply relaxing at the same time. It is gentle and thorough.

In between scrubs I look at the cloth and marvel. Why does it feel so different from a store bought washcloth? It is the texture? That rough but soft cotton? That contradictory combination of invigorating and soothing? I never felt this until sister Kathy gifted me with two of her washcloths. I think one was white and one green. Color should not affect the feel, and yet it does. I stand under a pounding rain of hot water, in my shower of seafoam colored tiles, and I want the white cloth.

There are no hands to roll me over, knead and massage. I have not had to travel or lay out big bucks. I simply take a perfect white crocheted cloth and step into the shower. Simple. Pleasure. Thank you, Kathy.


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