Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Rope Swing

About 12 years ago little Mary Kate took a gymnastics class through the city.  She was eager to run and jump and follow the teacher through a circuit of activities but by far her favorite part of her class came at the end: the rope swing.  As if by magic a thick rope hung from the ceiling begging to be ridden.  She swang so wide and so long that she was entranced.  She would talk about it all week long and each week I would try to imagine the swing in our backyard.  After the last class, Mary Kate and I walked hand in hand to the local hardware store and sat transfixed in the rope section.  We ended up with a thick rope, red and white.  Trusty John rigged the rope to the thickest branch of our almond tree and thus began our family's courtship with flying kid style. Jack and Mary Kate created elaborate routines; they figured out how to swing high and low, twisty and even bouncy; they were able to climb up the rope and touch the branch and one day after watching the Olympic ice skaters, even attempted to both swing at the same time in some sort of spin...flop! One of our funniest memories of the swing was watching the two of them get bigger and longer and still attempting the swing.  At the time, there was a root of the tree that was running like a thread just below the surface of the grass right where the kids would swing.  We would remind them to be careful of the "root boot" (a.k.a. a sore behind!) but too many times to count one of them came off the swing rubbing their bottom, complaining about that darn root.

Today, the faded red and white rope has been replaced with a thicker green and white one.  The sturdy almond tree has two more playmates -- Patrick and Caroline -- and this time the rope swing has also become a prop in many plays.  Superman has flown from many danger zones in his blue costume and red cape; Mr. Incredible has been flying.  Peter Pan waits for the right angle of the sun.  He knows when the sun will create the shadow he needs to find in Wendy's bedroom and he has sung "I'm Flying" so many times on that rope that I really do believe he is! Little Wendy is often right behind in her flowing jammies.  We've had pirates, princesses, fairies, and yesterday Alice in Wonderland.  Watching Caroline swing with that gorgeous almond blossom snow sprinkling some nature-made fairy dust created a moment of magic.  She whispered and sang in a soft, soft voice.  She jumped and created a twisty pattern with the rope.  She leaped on and off and was lost in her world of play.  Patrick strummed away with his guitar, badly, but it was a definite overture of sorts.  Together they imagined and dreamed and pretended and played in a world of their own.  For the briefest of moments a spell was cast on me and I could see their world.  I could see the grace of child centered creativity, joy, freedom and flying.  Most of all I could see the beauty of childhood and remember my own spell-bound hours in the Nature Area at the end of Duffy Court. Alice took me down the hole today and I fell in...

Have you been lost in a world of make believe?  When? Where?  What made that moment magical for you?

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