mum’s hankies

Who would have thought something as banal as nose wiping gear could be so full of meaning? I’ve found this a common occurrence living without money – little things loaded with significance, value, richness. The little becomes big.

While visiting my parents the other day, the subject of tissues came up – probably because I had a runny nose. Sitting around the kitchen table, we went from chatting about tissues to discussing my new found delight in using scraps of cloth for my nose, to theories on the development of purpose built handkerchiefs and then to Mum digging out a handful of unused hankies she had been given as a young woman and had never used. These beautiful pieces of fabric are at least 60 years old! I now have antique nose-cleaning gear! I have always loved the hand-me-down and these are especially special, coming from my mum. She hadn’t used them because she said they were too pretty and she preferred tissues instead. I did not anticipate this gift and the beauty of a simple gesture out of the blue. I will cherish these hankies. These beauties will replace the scraps of fabric I have been using in my low-impact, moneyless and, therefore, tissue-free life.

I had started using scraps of fabric for my nose only relatively recently when my supply of second hand cafe serviettes started to run low. I had seen Ananda and the family at the farm using old fabric scraps for all sorts of things so was kind of looking forward to the opportunity of getting some pretty bits together for nose wiping and other cleaning purposes. I had not expected this sudden antique handkerchief inheritance.


My curiosity is piqued. I wonder where they were made, who made them, what they are made of. Are they cotton or linen? Were they made in a factory? Or by hand? Where does this strange word handkerchief come from? What on earth is a kerchief? A ‘kerchief’, apparently, is an item of cloth worn to cover the head. Bandannas, shawls or scarves worn over the head are all kerchiefs. Bring them back, I say!

Let’s bring back the handkerchief and ditch the tissue. For low-impact hygiene in the household, following on from my previous blog, this is an obvious one and easy to do. But let’s not just run out and start buying new handkerchiefs – completely defeating the purpose of being low-impact. Instead, we can use beautiful pieces of linen that are too small for anything else, raid our local op shops for second hand hankies, or cut up old worn-out flannel pajamas. A few of us – the lucky ones – will have some special ones donated by parents or grandparents……

Some other things I value more highly these days: the dandelion ‘coffee’ Joline gave me for Christmas last year, the gumboots from Rose, the bit of Aloe Vera toothpaste from Evelyn, the lovely jacket from Kirsty, waste choc powder from Tim, the list goes on …..

So if you see me walking around sometime, ask to see one of these beauties.

And thanks Mum x







5 thoughts on “mum’s hankies

  1. Just came across your blog and have enjoyed reading about your journey. I only use hankies and some of them are even second hand but it doesn’t worry me. They have been washed and dried in the sun so no big deal.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hola! Desde Argentina! leí tu blog y te doy mis felicitaciones! los pañuelos de tela yo los uso también herencia de mi amadas nonas! amo ese estilo de vida, hago todo lo posible para producir el menor impacto posible al ambiente!! soy técnica agropecuaria y amo mi huerta y mis plantas frutales amo tener mi vaca para sacar leche y tengo mis gallinas para los huevos.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ha ha yes hankies. My dad still uses his. It makes so much sense but then I often just blow onto my hands when washing my face. I will say when fighting a bug like the cold or flu as far as I know it is better to use a one time thingy so unless you have a lot of hankies it’s toilet paper or tissues. From memory its about not reinfecting your self and or spreading the bugs onto door handles etc from a used hanky…

    I like how this approach to life one gets to really appreciate the beauty of objects we do have. A much more mindful approach to living sprinkling our days with moments of real joy.

    Liked by 1 person

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