Wednesday, May 16, 2012

artifacts of a life - backyard swing

There has always been a swing in my parents’ backyard. At least, there has always been one in my memory. I spent a lot of time on that swing. With friends, we would take turns pumping our legs hard enough to gain the altitude for a long jump into the grass. You hade to gain enough momentum to clear the hard packed dirt that surrounded the swing set. Sometimes we’d measure each jump in an Olympic competition, the winner earning bragging rights for the day in lieu of a gold medal.
Other times, one friend would spin you on the swing, twisting the chain until there was no more room for your head to fit between the lengths, then one good push in the opposite direction to send you spinning wildly, legs extended, hands gripping the chain, breath caught at the top of your chest, stolen by the centrifugal force.
But the swing was there even when friends were not. A swing called to a solitary me and promised a pedestal from which to sing. The swing was mine when nothing else in our crowded house seemed to be.
Looking out my mother’s window as I wash her dishes today, I see my quiet self practicing a song for the church choir, or reading the book assigned by y 6th grade teacher, or contemplating the swift moving clouds, or listening to chattering squirrels. It’s a different swing set now, the old rusted green one finally having succumbed to children and grandchildren and random neighborhood visitors. The swing, though, is still mine.