Friends and neighbors could not resist the swing we attached to the rafters of our porch. They pulled against sturdy chains, pumping themselves as near the ceiling as possible, back and forth, laughing, sharing stories and working to get higher still. The rest of us sat on porch railings or in the loveseat to cheer them on. That was when we lived in southeast Portland. The swing was one of the great pleasures of the house. I could tell what kind of day the mail carrier was having, by peeking to see if she stole a moment from her rounds to swing, or if she ignored its waiting invitation and continued on. When winter came the front porch was abandoned, so we put a second swing inside the house.
My last kitchen was like a hallway, with a playroom for my granddaughter at one end, and a dining room on the other. Many-paned windows saved it from feeling confined. Large connecting bolts screwed through the casing in the kitchen doorway, secured the swing for all weights and sizes. It arched deep inside the kitchen, with views above the refrigerator and high-dwelling shelves. The kids in the neighborhood loved it, while I would orchestrate cooking in dodges and darts to avoid their feet. Sometimes I’d pretend to be slow, so they’d tag me, and giggle with delight. If they were not in the kitchen, I’d use it myself. There is nothing quite like being airborne to break the monotony of chopping potatoes or peeling carrots. A few high kicks in the air and life has a different perspective. Suddenly it’s more important to see how high your feet can soar, than tend the pots and pans that sputter and steam below.
Our country house has 16 foot ceilings, but oddly, no place for a swing. So, I cut, shoveled and graveled a path over the hill, and into the forest below. Gib climbed to the top of an extension ladder and higher still, into the broad arms of a Douglas Fir, in a heroic effort to provide my swing. He cut away branches, tied ropes around a husky limb, and got himself safely down, all the time looking like a crazed environmental terrorist.
When the light returns and spring invites us out of doors, it is not unusual to trail down in my nightgown, place my tea cup on a near-by stump, wrap eager fingers around the ropes, pull back strong against the hill and become airborne. The release from the earth and the wind in my hair is a perfect way to start the day. It gives me perspective and relieves the pressures of adult life.