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Swing June 5, 2009

Posted by indigobunting in Uncategorized.
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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.

Comments»

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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