"Sweet Spring Swing" NPR (88.1 WVPE) Radio Commentary with Michiana Chronicles

You can listen to this NPR radio piece by CLICKING HERE

Spring is now here and those fresh, balmy mornings on my front porch have begun.  You may know I have this tiny porch crammed with life: too many chairs, benches and tables, a couple people at any given time, an oversized canine and the decorations!  All around the ceiling I have more kitsch and sassy decoration than a TGI Fridays server has flair.  (Or had flair, apparently they don't do that anymore?) Anyhoo.  I love my porch.  I like that I can kind of be inside and outdoors at the same time.  I feel less lazy somehow, taking my mug of coffee to the front porch instead of the couch.  My little girls prefer it too.  We often carry a haphazard array of items outside to enjoy; breakfast, bubbles, a book. 

And don't get me started about my hammock!  Mother's Day last year was very very good to me.  Now we have a lovely hammock that can support 500 pounds of family cuddling-- though I usually kick everybody out and enjoy it all myself.  The kids needed something other than my hammock to enjoy in the back yard.  

John and I weighed the possibility of a swing set castle treehouse fortress thing.  We saw the prices for those suckers and immediately grew nostalgic for a simple metal pole swing set for the girls.  They are elusive, it seems.  And our yard is the size of a postage stamp.  And we live one block from a lovely park anyway.  What about...no swing set?  Is it unAmerican to not have a swing set in the yard for our kids?  One walk through any subdivision will scream it as part of childhood.  To have your own swingset castle fortress.  What if we just...didn't?  

My husband had saved a ruined tire from his car a year ago with the thought of a simple tire swing.  I thought that might be simply tacky.  And dirty.  I still struggle with my girls getting dirty.  (I know, I know, I am working on it, friends!) A tire swing.  A tire swing!  

After weighing all of our options and fighting the girls out of my hammock again I began to plot.  A tire swing was just what we needed.  Except I'm uncomfortable with heights.  And I don't tie good knots.  John is an Eagle Scout, so tying rope knots would be great if he did it, but if he climbed up a ladder that high he could fall off of it.  I asked my Dad to do it.  I love him a lot too, but...ummm, let's not say he's dispensable, let's say he has more experience and would be less likely to fall off a ladder to his doom.  It sounds better.  (Does it sound better?)

The girls and I headed to Home Depot and chatted up a perfectly nice fellow about the merits of this or that rope for a tire swing.  I settled on a thick, coarse, natural colored nylon rope but didn't buy it.  I was still uncertain about the reality of an old tire hanging in my back yard, so I just took a picture of the rope I wanted with my smart phone.  Love it.  I listened as my five year old daughter Portia quizzed the employee on the different ropes and chains in the aisle.   He did his best to answer her questions with respect and a straight face.  I thought maybe I should be a little nervous about her fascination, but I was once a little girl in a hardware store. I could remember enjoying the rows of trays of tiny metal things and how different the fragrance of a hardware store was from any other store I would visit. 

I also had a tire swing when I was a little girl.  I had practically forgotten this fact until my Dad started climbing up the ladder to hang the rope for the swing.  We had a large wandering yard and great big Oak and Walnut trees on our property.  I do not know how old I was when the tire swing went up (or who was on it when it broke and came down) but I loved it.  I was renewed in my pursuit of a tire swing for the girls.  Cheap and now nostalgic: Yes Ma'am!

Dad got the swing up and ready without falling to his death from the ladder.  We got it the right height.  We got it scrubbed clean.  I had the girls wash the tire with a bucket of Murphy's Oil Soap and water.  I told them it would be white when they cleaned it well enough.   When the swing was up we all took turns yahooing around on it and even my Dad had a twirl.  GLORIOUS!  I also learned a tire swing will swing farther and more haphazardly than a standard swing can.  More fun.

My girls may not have the big wooden activity center of a swing set in their yard, but the park a block away has one.  My girls, they have a dirty old tire swing.  They push each other on it or clamber onto it together with a few stuffed animals of the day.  I watch them as I lounge in my hammock almost jealous of their fun and little girl chaos.  We all smile and revel under a canopy of leaves in the warm Spring sun.

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