There is something so beautiful about falling asleep with my granddaughter in my arms. The smell of her wild curly snarled hair, her arms dotted with mosquito bites and her feet as dark as the ground she runs on. There is nothing that opens a heart like a child.
I remember asking a new father how he felt about being a dad, and he said, I was not prepared for the joy. Well, being a grandmother is even better. There is nothing my granddaughter could ask that I would not do.
So – now that you know my weakness, let me tell you about my morning.
Last night Isabella, ten years old, announced that the forest swing was too far from the house and had too many mosquitoes.
Could you put up another swing, ma? One that is closer?
This morning I decided to solve the problem.
I woke early and spotted a limb on an apple tree half way up the drive. It was small, much closer to the house and more accessable than the old growth cedar that holds the forest swing. I did a quick assessment and decided to go for it. If I cut through a lower branch, I could manage enough height.
Inspired, I went to the barn, where three chainsaws sat shining and waiting on the tool bench, like new cars on a lot, sneering at someone who could only ride a bike. I gave them a wide berth, knowing that if I tried to use them, it would be my limb I’d remove instead. I not so secretly hoped the gardener would show up and turn 20 minutes of labor into 20 seconds, but of course, he did not. The best I could manage was a flimsy joke of a handsaw that would require brute strength and long tedious back and forth arm movements, but I was determined. Patience, I decided and time would be on my side. I walked from the barn into a hot morning, shouldering a large silver ladder and a green triangular handsaw.
I was breathing hard as I propped the ladder against the trunk and began muscling the flimsy excuse of a blade back and forth through a limb it was never meant to cut. The aluminum steps wobbled and sweat ran down my brow as I persevered. Finally – snap, creak, release. The branch fell three inches, then refused to budge. It was entangled in larger limbs along the crest of the tree. I pulled, twisted branches backwards, removed bark from my eyes, threw my body over the limb and used language I will not print here.
Finally, it crashed, a large gangly albatross of a branch with smaller limbs shooting off in all directions. I dragged it across gravel, dirt and pavement to the log pile, pointing the heaviest part skyward and shoving it with a scream to the top of the heap. I found loppers and returned to the apple tree to remove any branches that might interfere with a clear launch. I gathered rope and a swing seat to finish the job, but had forgotten something to cut the rope, so I trailed back to the barn again where I found a machete. Overkill I know, but at that point I was too tired to walk to the house. I hacked away at the thick braids of twine until they severed. Success!
Isabella woke and came outside, rubbing sleep from her eyes. She could not believe the size of the knife I replaced in the sheath.
Ma, what is that?
It’s a machete; I use it to keep pirates away.
I could see her little brain filling with dangerously fun ideas so I redirected her focus. We stood knee deep in twigs and discarded rope, so I asked for help.
Bring this stuff back to the barn with me, then you can try your new swing. She was delighted. It took three trips to clear the ground before we were ready. My right arm was sore, I was dirty and exhausted, but it would all be worth it to watch Isabella on her new perch.
Are you ready? I asked.
She flashed a big smile and hopped on, her red pajamas and bare feet leaving the earth. Up she went, leaning back and forth on her maiden voyage. She made six or seven full swings before hopping off.
Actually ma, this swing is nice but I think I’ll stay with the forest swing. I like it better after all. This one doesn’t go very high.