Thursday, June 16, 2011


1.  I learned how to swing on the edge of a mesa overlooking pastures and bookcliffs.  I think my folks bought our first swing set at an auction back when I was 5 or 6.  It was some ugly, welded thing and Dad had to tie it up in the back of the pickup like an upside down capital letter A.  Although I don't think this is true, it seemed to me as if we had to drive hundreds of miles to get it home, and when we did, my folks set it up in front of our little brown trailer home that overlooked a view worth all the mansions in the world.  And here, my two sisters and I would spend whole summers swinging out over the land below us like birds attached to chains, released then captured, released again then captured.

2.  I broke my first bone on this swing set hanging upside down while reading, a trick I thought would somehow one-up the other first graders who were so proud they could read now.  Oh, yeah, well, I can read while hanging upside down.  I have always been so full of pride, but this is a post for another time.  Anyway, when I lost track of where I was, my legs came unhooked from the bar, and I crumpled to the ground still holding the book, my right collarbone snapped in two.  To this day, I still cringe when someone says they just cracked open a book.

3.  After church if Nora has let Pastor do most of the talking, we'll go to the little playground down the street where the swing sets allow for some fairly impressive "air".  But my favorite part, beyond the soaring height, legs kicking hard, feeling like my veins are filled with the life-drunk blood of an 8 year old girl, the best part is the rushing wind that deafens, my eyes closed so I become the nameless sound of it (is this what the bird knows?) until I am moving backward again and the noise of this world pours into that nameless, sightless space like intruding water.

4.  I bring this up because Nora learned how to pump today.  And I was watching her with tears because I know there is more to swinging than simply moving back and forth on a chain.  And from the look on her face as she flew, she knows this, too.  Freedom and grounding.  Gravity and how we have always wished we could fly.


  1. My mom just confirmed that we actually did drive over 200 miles with the swing set in the back of the pick-up. She says it was actually an old engine-block lift that had been turned into a swing set.

  2. I love this, partly because I have such fond memories of swinging when I was little. In kindergarten and first grade, my two best friends, Amy and Sheri, and I would run to get the "good swings" first: the ones with shorter chains so we could get higher faster, and the chains were covered in plastic so our fingers wouldn't get pinched. All we would do for recess was swing. I tried jumping off once, like I'd seen the big kids do. I landed on all fours in the woodchips: didn't try it again for a long time! The house where my parents live now, where I lived for over 10 years, has a swing set. My siblings and neighbors and I used to play on it all the time. We had "shoe-kicking contests": while swinging, we'd kick off our shoes and see who could kick the farthest. We didn't usually make it all the way to the house (30 or 40 yards). Sorry for the long comment...this brought back a lot of memories!