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Swing June 5, 2009

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.

Life is busy. No matter where one lives, one never seems to have the time to take full advantage of immediate surroundings: museums, theater, restaurants, mountains, waterways. One seems happy enough to take advantage only occasionally, when work is over and the chores are done. When one does enjoy something so readily available, one thinks, Why don’t I do this way more often?

That’s how I feel about the swing next door.

I love to swing. When I was little, we had a swing set in our backyard. A metal one with a sort of barbershop-pole pattern on the legs. It wasn’t well grounded, so it would shake a bit as I gained height. Not in a dangerous way, but in a rather loud, noticeable way.

There was a fantastic set at my elementary school. Old-fashioned, solid, heavy metal. Steel, I think. Even the seats were a flat steel, which to this day may be my favorite kind of seat—I don’t see them much anymore. I like how the flat seat doesn’t smash your hips. It’s probably not only more expensive, but a little more dangerous, what with the not-hugging-to-your-exact-body-size. Anyway, I seem to remember that this elementary school swing set faced some huge leafy maples. And I remember swinging pretty high and jumping off. Crazy.

But I think I have found my absolute all-time favorite swing set. It’s right next door. In winter, I can clearly see it from my bedroom window. Even now, in full foliage, I can see a lot of it through one of my office windows.

My next-door neighbor Paul built this wooden set. It’s solid as a rock. It has three swings, a slide, and whaddya call those two rings that hang down, one for each hand? It’s got that.

And here’s the best part: location. It faces the stream.

On this swing set, it feels like you are (nearly) swinging out over the water.

I can swing so high on this thing that I can touch the lower twigs of the big pine tree with my left foot.

I maintain that swinging is perhaps one of the quickest ways to become one with the moment. This swing set, especially, can stimulate almost every sense simultaneously. I can see the stream, the trees, the birds, the insects, the way the light is all spickly speckly. I can hear, especially early in the summer, the stream itself, the water level still high enough to make some noise, and I can hear the frogs and the toads and the birds and the dogs and the goats. I can smell the pine and the earthiness, and I can feel the temperature change as I swing out toward the cooling water and back again. I may not taste much, unless I bring a snack or swallow a bug, but I do get another feeling when I swing: that tickly feeling that we all fall in love with as kids and then perhaps associate with some other sensual feeling discovered a little later. (Is there a link to the word swinger here? I don’t know.)

I love my neighbors’ swing, and I should take advantage of it more often. But rest assured, last Saturday night, under the Big Dipper and next to a bonfire encircled with friends, I was swinging high.


1. Dona Patrick - June 5, 2009

I remember swinging really high as a kid at Wing Park — perhaps you’ve heard of it. I remember when I learned to “pump”.

One of the things we splurged on when we had kids was a nice wooden playset for the kids. The kids are too old for it now, but I sometimes go out and swing. We’ve got friends with young children and because they just bought a house we are letting them come over and dismantle it and take it to their house.

2. bridgett - June 5, 2009

I loved swings…and then I got an inner ear infection and they’ve never been the same for me after that. I miss them. Hammocks will have to do for now.

I remember TJ jumping off the swings at school when I was in 3rd grade–he was a 6th grader. I remember the pins sticking out of his set wrist. But I still jumped off the swings.

3. Mali - June 5, 2009

Wheeeeeeee! My sister and I had a swing, and we used to have competitions jumping off to see who got the farthest.

Bridgett: don’t let Sophia and Maeve read this given your last post! Hammocks though … they’re good too.

4. laurie - June 6, 2009

i stop at schoolyards all the time to use the swings. i only do it when there’s no one around. i don’t want to look like a middle-aged freak show.

man, a swingset, a stream, the big dipper….. how lovely.

5. Susan - June 6, 2009

I’m so glad I came here and read this. We had those metal swings in elementary school, too, and I was a strong kid, tall for my age, and great at pumping to get those swings up high. Your post brought back a sensation I hadn’t thought about in years.

When my husband and I first came to look at the house we eventually bought, the one I live in now, he was put off by the age (c. 1850) and condition of the place. But I loved it on sight. And when we went upstairs I stood at one of the tall bedroom windows with my toddler daughter (our only child at the time) on my hip and looked out at a huge old apple tree. For a fraction of a second, I had a vision of a swing hanging from a high branch, and my children (yes, children) playing on the lawn and swinging. Of course, my vision came true.

6. bettyslocombe - June 7, 2009

Top notch: we have a trampoline………

7. indigobunting - June 7, 2009

Susan: You have just written your own post! Lovely.

Betty: I want to get on a trampoline. As a chubby kid, I made it go down farther than anyone else, which was traumatic. Now I think it would be fun and I’d like to redeem myself a little.

Dona: I looked up Wing Park and I lived close enough to it that I MUST have seen it at some point…oh so many years ago…maybe I even got a swing there!

All: Thanks for the comments, stories, and lovely turns of phrase (e.g., middle-aged freak show).

8. Joya - June 7, 2009

I’ve had a problem with swings ever since one tried to kill me as a child, but this post makes me want to give them another chance.

And Susan, how lovely that your vision came true!

9. Lynda - June 8, 2009

Speechless and teary-eyed, I am.

10. indigobunting - June 8, 2009

Lynda: It’s the best swing ever. Maybe if I get one minute between now and Wednesday morning, when I leave town, I’ll take another quick ride…

11. indigobunting - June 8, 2009

Joya: It tried to kill you? I bet you could write a lovely blog entry about that event…

12. Craig (Maito Sewa Yoleme) - June 8, 2009

My physician once asked if I hit my head a lot. I said, “No, probably no more than most people. About four or five times a year, I’d guess.” She laughed and said that most people don’t hit their heads for or five times in their life. Apparently once you’ve hit your head very hard as a child, you’re much more prone to repeated blows. Something about misjudging distances, I think.

I fell off a tall sliding board at a park once. There was a baseball diamond adjoining it, and someone hit a pop fly and the crowd was yelling, so I looked up, lost my balance, and fell, hitting my head. The following year I was on a swingset, and gained such height and momentum that I was hurled off the seat, into the air, and onto the ground, once again hitting my head.

They hurt. I wonder if those early experiences contributed to my fear of roller coasters and Ferris wheels?

13. Adam Byrn Tritt - June 8, 2009

I remember my first time on a swing set. Then I remember waking up, on the ground, five minutes later. Apparently I had been hit in the head with the glider portion.

It still causes problems.

I remember my first time on a swing set. Then I remember waking up, on the ground, five minutes later. Apparently I had been hit in the head with the glider portion.

It still causes problems.

I remember my first time on a swing set. Then I remember waking up, on the ground, five minutes later. Apparently I had been hit in the head with the glider portion.

It still causes problems.

14. indigobunting - June 9, 2009

Craig: This explains a lot. However, I think people hit their heads all the time. Must be a matter of degree.

Adam: You can always make me laugh.

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