When I was a little girl, we had a metal swing set in our backyard that had come from an old school. The swing set was higher and bigger than the kind my friends had in their yards. I would sit on the swing for hours, swinging back and forth. I’d look up at the sky and imagine touching my toes to the clouds. Each swing would bring me just a little closer. I didn’t fear that the swing set would topple over because my father had cemented the frame into the ground. As I swung, I could hear the swing set groan. When I went forward, it said, “Ye-e-e-es.” When I swung back to the ground again, it said, “No-o-o-o.” “Ye-e-e-es,” “No-o-o-o.” “Ye-e-e-es.” “No-o-o-o.” So close each time, but always defeated by gravity.
My neighbor, Marsha, had a smaller more typical metal swing set. I remember we would go on the double-swing, the kind that has seats that face each other. We would stand on each side opening and let the little kids sit on the seats. We’d swing from side to side and sing a song that we made up. It went something like this, “We’re going to Candy Town, We’re going to Candy Town. There’s going to be candy all around, We’re going to Candy Town.” We would change the “Candy Town” part to maybe, “Toy Town” at times. But wherever we were going, when the swing stopped, that’s where we’d be. We would walk around her yard and imagine all of our favorite things around us, we could almost taste the candy . . .
I spent much of my childhood on a swing and when I had children of my own, one of the first things I bought was a metal swing set. I taught them the “Candy Town” song and we visited it often. We moved from that house when my daughter was 13 and my son was 8. At our new house we bought one of those wooden swing sets with a “fort” platform attached that took up almost our entire back yard. While they both played with the fort, it was my daughter who never stopped swinging. Even in high school, her friends would come over and they would sit on the swings and enter their own little world. She was very upset when we took the swing set down while she was away at college. But it didn’t make sense to have it take up so much of our small yard for the few times that it was used.
We went to visit her recently where she lives now. She is in graduate school in a southern state and wanted to get a porch swing for the house she rents. She decided that instead of the more common wooden bench swing, she wanted one of those “Bohemian” net swings that envelope your body as you sit in them. We did buy one for her and when her father takes her back in August, he will hang it from her porch. She intends to study in her swing as it bounces and swings from the spring and chain it is attached to.
One of my first memories of swings was seeing a swing in my grandmother’s neighbor’s yard. I looked out of a window and could see one of those self-standing wooden swings with a frame built around it. It only consisted of two benches facing each other with a wooden platform for your feet in between. Many times I imagined myself on that swing. Years went by before I saw a swing like that again. It was at an Amish outdoor furniture store in upstate New York. I sat on it and swung back and forth. I wanted to buy it for our little summer home in the mountains, but I couldn’t rationalize spending $600 on a swing I would only use a few weekends a year while I still had children to raise. After all, children are expensive and I was “only” a stay-at-home mom. So I didn’t buy that swing.
But now, another summer is approaching and I am looking around my small yard at home once again and trying to figure out if there is a place that I could put one of those swings. Every year I come to the same conclusion, there’s no place for it, but that doesn’t seem to stop me from looking again the next year. So maybe this will be the year. Maybe I will buy myself that swing and sit on it for hours again. Maybe I will visit places in my imagination and write about them in my books. “Ye-e-e-es,” “No-o-o-o,” “Maybe?”
http://www.theresadodaro.com Author of The Tin Box Trilogy