Friday, May 28, 2010
Time and Tide
I keep threatening to dismantle and donate this swing/slide set, to a younger family, one who will make better use of it, but every time I do, I find myself greeted by howls of protest.
(Hey Billy Pilgram, see that gorgeous ivy climbing up that there tree? As I processed this photo, I couldn't help but to think of you!)
The children have long since outgrown it, and it lies abandoned and ignored virtually all the year round. I guess it is not so much that they’d miss ever using it again, no, it’s rather more about what it has come to symbolise.
We put this set together over eight years ago, on the very first summer we moved into our new house. It arrived in a flat-pack, and took three grown men, plus the addition of a brain (modesty preventing me from naming whose) to finally work out how to correctly put that darn thing up. We finally gave in and enlisted the help of professionals to install the adjacent, stand-alone Zip-line, (not in view) which has also become a rejected relic from our children’s recently out-grown past.
Before living here, they had only enjoyed the limitations of our teensie, tiny London backyard, and I still grin as I recall Beccy timidly asking me if it was alright to play out in “The Park” on her own. I guess that is exactly how it must have seemed to them back then, an amazing adventure-playground, the likes of which they had never before known.
This play-set is where ten-year-old Matt carved both his, and the initials of his first love, in to the corner post of (which the eleven-year-old Matt later scratched out). It’s where, on one autumn evening, eight-year-old Beccy slipped awkwardly from the monkey-bars, serving to break her arm, which necessitated surgery to mend. Nine-year-old Sam needed frequent rescue from the top of the fort, he had learned to climb long before mastering the more complex art of descent. And three-year-old Abby had had to beg a hoist to reach up to that centre twizzle-bar there, and, ever the Tom-boy, she'd haplessly invented the perfect drop-roll from it, for ease of independently finding firm ground.
Yes, there is no denying this set has given us a full, loyal service throughout the years, sadly, it has certainly seen far better days – slightly askew and battered, it’s once proud frame today stands much weathered and worn. Set away from the house in a secluded corner, it now largely exists invisible from both sight and from mind.
I know I should really pass it on to a second life, to one where it may continue giving blisters, bumps, bruises and many, many more years of joy to another boisterous, young family.
There are so many memories bound up in it's timbers. And much as my children have grown and changed, so too has the purpose this swing-set still serves.
Sometimes, when the lower garden is teeming, the BBQ lit, and a full company of friends are littering the lawn.. occasionally, only once in a while, I can catch a soft murmur of conversation drifting over from that secluded corner. The swings may no longer sweep and arc as much as once they did, but it seems they still continue to provide a valuable purpose. It’s a comforting seat to console a friend, a clandestine meeting place for young romance to blossom, and it offers a gentle, quiet respite to those who might feel the need to steal a few precious moments away, alone.
It's a curious thought, but who knows? Perhaps, one (distant) day, my children's children might also lay claim to it, for their own happy use?
Usage may change, but much as in like parenting, if time dictates we must adapt and alter, that which is truly precious needs never be wholly rendered redundant..
Besides, this daft, old woman is already entering into her second childhood!
So tell me, which treasured, but virtually useless valuable, do you hold impossible to part with?