Sweet Spring Swing
By Heather Curlee Novak
Spring is now here and those fresh, balmy mornings on my tiny front porch have begun. We often eat breakfast on the front porch and dinner on the backyard patio. Being outside is so enjoyable, especially after that endless winter! With these warm Spring days we just drift outside to enjoy the sunshine.
And don't get me started about my hammock! Mother's Day last year was very very good to me. Now we have a lovely hammock that can support 500 pounds of family cuddling! Though I usually kick everybody out and enjoy it all myself. The kids needed something other than my hammock to enjoy in the back yard.
John and I weighed the possibility of a swing set castle tree house fortress thing. We saw the prices for those suckers and immediately grew nostalgic for a simple metal pole swing set for the girls. They are elusive, it seems. And our yard is the size of a postage stamp. And we live one block from a lovely park anyway. What about...no swing set? Is it un American to not have a swing set in the yard for our kids? One walk through any subdivision will scream it as part of childhood: You must have your own swingset-castle-fortress. What if we just...didn't?
My husband had saved a ruined tire from his car a year ago with the thought of a simple tire swing. I thought that might be simply tacky. And dirty. I still struggle with my girls getting dirty. (I know, I know, I am working on it, friends!) A tire swing? A tire swing!
After weighing all of our options and fighting the girls out of my hammock again I began to plot. A tire swing was just what we needed. (Except I'm uncomfortable with heights and do not tie good knots.) John is an Eagle Scout, so tying rope knots would be great if he did it, but if he climbed up a ladder that high he could fall off of it. I asked my Dad to do it. I love him a lot too, but...ummm, let's not say he's dispensable, let's say he has more experience and would be less likely to fall off a ladder to his doom. It sounds better. (Does it sound better?)
The girls and I headed to Home Depot and chatted up a perfectly nice fellow about the merits of this or that rope for a tire swing. I settled on a thick, coarse, natural colored nylon rope but didn't buy it. I was still uncertain about the reality of an old tire hanging in my back yard, so I just took a picture of the rope I wanted with my smart phone. (Love it!) I listened as my five-year-old daughter Portia quizzed the employee on the different ropes and chains in the aisle. He did his best to answer her questions with respect and a straight face. I thought maybe I should be a little nervous about her fascination, but I was once a little girl in a hardware store. I could remember enjoying the rows of trays of tiny metal things and how different the fragrance of a hardware store was from any other store I would visit.
I also had a tire swing when I was a little girl. I had practically forgotten this fact until my Dad started climbing up the ladder to hang the rope for the swing. We had a large wandering yard and great big walnut trees on our property. I do not know how old I was when the tire swing went up (or who was on it when it broke and came down) but I loved it. I was renewed in my pursuit of a tire swing for the girls. Cheap and now nostalgic: You Bet!
Dad got the swing up and ready without falling to his death from the ladder. We got it the right height. We got it scrubbed clean. I had the girls wash the tire with a bucket of Murphy's Oil Soap and water. I told them it would be white when they cleaned it well enough. When the swing was up we all took turns yahooing around on it and even my Dad had a twirl. GLORIOUS!
My girls may not have the big wooden activity center of a swing set in their yard, but the park a block away has one. My girls, they have a dirty old tire swing. They push each other on it or clamber onto it together with a few stuffed animals of the day. I watch them as I lounge alone in my hammock almost jealous of their fun and little girl chaos. We all smile and revel under a canopy of leaves in the warm Spring sun.