by Robert Louis Stevenson
How do you like to go up in a swing,
Up in the air so blue?
Oh, I do think it the pleasantest thing
Ever a child can do!
Up in the air and over the wall,
Till I can see so wide,
River and trees and cattle and all
Over the countryside-
Till I look down on the garden green,
Down on the roof so brown-
Up in the air I go flying again,
Up in the air and down!
During my girlhood, we were most fond of a downtown park in Kansas City that overlooked the river bottom deemed Cursy Coats. It offered beautiful panoramic cityscape of the Missouri River bluffs and a cool breeze would rustle the two-toned Cottonwood tree leaves from white to grey green. We would go there on Daddy’s lunch hour when my mother was expecting yet another baby and visiting her doctor. She would pack the most amazing tomato and tuna salad sandwiches on whole wheat bread and we would drink from the stone water bubbler that would spurt up just enough to tease our thirst.
The playground was equipped with an array of swings. Our greatest fun was racing to see who could go higher. Daddy spoke of a child who once “shot the moon” on a swing, flying so high that he looped over the top. Later I realized it was just an urban legend but at the time I was a true believer that this feat was possible.
The poor man was barraged by manic pleads from his girls to “push me, Daddy!” and he would skirt from one seersucker-clad derriere to the next in an effort to maintain our glee. I recall him patiently teaching me how to “pump” in an effort to swing independently. As a five-year-old it seemed to be rocket science, as I desperately sought the perfect moment in which to lean back with legs straight. But comparable to learning to ride a bicycle, the rhythmic ballet of swinging became second nature to me.
Now a swing hangs from my Sycamore tree. I love to relax this way. There is a meditative spirit to be found beneath the shade tree that knows no age.
May your summer afford you many uplifting moments…