The Swing

The Swing

A Story by Sandy Miller
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Nonfiction- Life, family and love.

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                                   The Swing 

Many years ago I bought a large live oak tree which came with a house, on a corner lot, bordered by quirky uneven sidewalks. The oak tree was so large already that it was not possible to reach all the way around it, even with two arms. Like the leaning tower of Pisa, the tree displayed a slight lean to its posture, yet it was still perfectly situated in the front yard. It was not too far from the center of the yard, but still remained close enough to the house to mercifully provide immense shade over the garage and at least half of the house during the many hot summers that would lie ahead. The tree stood quite tall with many very long, thick, burly limbs. As if they had a destination in mind, each limb stretched outwardly meandering in a seemingly aimless, peculiar fashion high over the house, driveway and front lawn. The unusual angles, curves and bumps in the wide limbs resembled a natural abstract work of art in an interesting and relaxing sort of way.  Every year they reliably grew much longer and thicker, just another example of nature’s ever changing canvas. In fact, one of the largest and thickest limbs stretched from the tree all the way across the driveway to the very northern edge of the house, at least fifteen feet up. 

Upon moving in, it was apparent to me that although this lovely graceful tree exuded immense character there was something conspicuously missing, I knew exactly what it was. Within just a few days a beautiful wooden swing arrived, along with my dearest friends; problem solved. The chains of the swing were thick and strong, as were the limbs of the old tree.  Large roots had long since emerged from under the ground beneath the tree.  The slats of the swing were made of strong hardwood just like the tree, together they were a perfect match.  We hung the swing from the strongest limb, which just happened to grow at a perfect angle allowing us front row seats to the corner intersection not far away. We were able to enjoy an excellent view down three streets from this position and a slight toss of the head over the left shoulder provided an equally perfect view of the street coming up from behind us. Somehow, as if anticipating our arrival, the tree had deliberately provided the strongest limb in the ideal place.  It was just as I had imagined that it could be and we soon became adamant “swing-sitters.” 

We drank our coffee on the swing in the mornings, enjoying the scenery while watching our neighborhood wake up. In the evenings, we sometimes enjoyed a glass of wine or a beer, in the same spot. The swing became our favorite resting or reading place during the day time. We learned a lot about our neighbors simply by watching them quietly over the years. For example, their was a very attractive middle-aged lady a few doors down who did her lawn work each week in one of  her many colorful bikini's, in order to “get a tan.”

The precise moment that she began to do her lawn work men on both sides the street for four doors down would reliably begin theirs also, right on cue.  They were the most unusual yet amusing collaboration of lawn manicure musicians. The landscaping orchestra politely waited each week to accompany their conductor with mowers gassed and edger's sharpened. Working diligently, but in perfect harmony, they began and finished their lawns together. The one’s too far away to enjoy lawn day simply broke out their binoculars and lawn chairs. They all watched her, while we watched them and we all laughed at each other. Thanks to her we had the best looking yards in the neighborhood and it's true she always had a lovely tan by summers end.  The swing became the social gathering place where we gossiped amongst ourselves about each other in good fun. If the swing was full there was always plenty of sitting room on the lawn. 

The corner school bus stop was only a few feet away from the swing.  This allowed the children a sitting spot to wait for their buses each day while chatting and playing. Many times over the years I have watched over the children safely with a cup of coffee in my hand from the window as they all grew up. On very cold days we had swing blankets. After school the swing became the “timeout” swing, the "homework" swing, the "snack" swing, mostly though, it was just the "good time” swing. The swing tree for many years, has been designated "home base” for endless games of tag. Official tag rules devised by the children stipulate that in the game of  "tag” you may climb the tree if you are able to do so.  This requires the tagger to actually climb the tree as well to tag you or you are safe. However, in their games of "hide and seek" it’s the reverse.  If you are seen in the tree you are "It" tagging is not necessary. Golf balls, croquet balls, footballs and Frisbee's remain in play should they ricochet off of the tree. From the swing we watched the children learn to ride their bicycles, skate boards and roller skates down the quirky sidewalks. During Halloween the swing has always been a resting place for many weary people on their Halloween treks. 

 My garage door and front door both have interesting squares embellished with leaf stampings that my son and I made from the tree's leaves in the Autumn.  We were very happy with our aesthetic improvements. More times than are countable the swing has served as a sleeping place for people, cats, squirrels and birds. The abundance of acorns produced by the tree make the swing a very popular place for the squirrels the sit and munch. Each Autumn the squirrels wait for the acorns to mature signaling the commencement of the inevitable, exhausting acorn brigade.  They begin gathering acorns non-stop as quickly and greedily as possible, searching for every potential hiding place to stash their loot. Circling the tree up and down, jumping along the swing they will chase each other away as they chatter their barking noises until even the cats come to sit and watch them lazily. It did not take the squirrels long to figure out that the many potted plants which I keep on the front terrace is perfect for both flowers and acorns. This explains why I am growing oak trees and begonias in the same pots, of course.

 Each spring the cicadas emerge from the ground leaving thin shells attached all over the tree and the house. The shrill chorus of the cicadas is a distinct southern ballad of its own signaling the impending arrival of the humming birds as they make their bi-annual migration from south to north with the change of the seasons. The hummingbirds return each year for a short stop over and fuel up before flying south to the warmer weather during winter. Surprisingly friendly, the hummingbirds announce their arrival by swooping down then hovering directly in front of the "swing sitter's"  to let us know they have arrived hungry. The  vast umbrella created by the branches and foliage of the swing tree easily provides space for six to eight feeders nicely spaced. Falling rain is dispersed into a very fine mist which drifts lightly spiraling around under the tree. Hummingbirds seem to love zipping and gliding through the mists from feeder to feeder delicately showering themselves clean while having a tiny drink. They put on quite an amusing show chasing each other from feeder to feeder.  

We had no idea whatsoever, when we hung the swing how important it would eventually become over the years, not only for our family but for others as well. The family swing has always served as a meeting place for just about every important life altering family discussion or transition as the years have passed and holds many incredibly profound memories. Our cherished family memories embellish the old solid wooden slats like an invisible varnish. When foundations are strong they are lasting as is the foundation of this tree old oak tree. The swing that we attached was also strong and sure and it too has lasted all of these years just like our family. 

Recently, a crack appeared in the concrete foundation of our garage floor quickly running directly down the middle of it near the tree. My husband had the foundation of our home properly surveyed for its future stability. Final analysis revealed that the house itself was really unaffected but the one side of the garage may continue to be displaced a bit as the root of the oak tree expands. As we sat on the swing discussing this revelation my husband carefully explained to me that to properly level the garage's foundation it would be necessary to remove the swing and cut down the old oak tree which it adorned. I agreed that the tree could be cut down and the swing stored away immediately after my death.  As I carelessly laugh and step over the crack in my garage floor I smile while hanging the hummingbird feeders or sitting with a cup of coffee. The birds are here on time, the cicadas are singing and the squirrels continue potting the acorns.  The foundation could not be sounder. 

-Sandy Miller 


© 2015 Sandy Miller



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Featured Review


A tale of things simple but profoundly beautiful, wondrous, and of unparalleled importance. The swing, the tree , the hummingbirds--it seems we view life through very similar eyes. Your writing is solid and smooth. I'd say you need a few more commas, but realize a lot of folks these days aren't fond of them. (In my writing, I just might use too many)

Posted 2 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.




Reviews

Hmm nothing better than a great oak and a swings view of life. You did a great job showing it to me.

Posted 1 Year Ago


A great, great story. The memories this old swing and tre have brought are priceless. The garage...ah...it's a garage. I loved lawn mowing day. I laughed and laughed. Thank you so much for this.

Posted 2 Years Ago


Sandy Miller

2 Years Ago

A really beautiful review. I am so glad that this true story touched your heart in a special place .. read more
a wonderful story,and the image you painted was great

Posted 2 Years Ago


Sandy Miller

2 Years Ago

Thank you for reading and I so glad that you enjoyed it.
Best wishes,
Sandy
 wordman

2 Years Ago

my pleasure sandy
I agree with you about the comma's. Comma splices are frustrating but polish matters. I am currently, reviewing some of my writes on that subject. Thank you for your honest review and a point well made.

Posted 2 Years Ago



A tale of things simple but profoundly beautiful, wondrous, and of unparalleled importance. The swing, the tree , the hummingbirds--it seems we view life through very similar eyes. Your writing is solid and smooth. I'd say you need a few more commas, but realize a lot of folks these days aren't fond of them. (In my writing, I just might use too many)

Posted 2 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.


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5 Reviews
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Added on May 3, 2015
Last Updated on July 30, 2015
Tags: swing, sidewalk, love, family, story, contest, nonfiction, southern, tree

Author

Sandy Miller
Sandy Miller

Eureka Springs, AR



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