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In full swing

A simple coil of rope slung over a tree provides hours of swaying solitude.

By Sue Wunder / June 30, 2009

A girl on a swing enjoys a summer evening near Ottawa, Ontario.

Reuters/ File

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The most tech-savvy, gadget-oriented child has a hard time resisting the big rope swing dangling from the green canopy of our farmyard maple on a summer's day.

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Years ago Charlie dragged the abandoned mooring line, looped to neither boat nor mooring, up the bank of the Ohio River and home, and hung it from the venerable tree that shades the house and yard.

Maintenance free and long in arc, it has provided a one station playground for local kids and our own grandchildren ever since, outclassing even the hayloft as an attraction.

With one foot in the loop and arms around the rough hairy coil (thicker and gnarlier by far than most embracing biceps) a child takes flight, and may just glide back and forth for the duration of a parent's visit.

Sibling rivalry often gets a good workout as well.

There is something about a swing so simple that appeals even to a child accustomed to designer playgrounds – the parks here in Bloomington, Indiana, offer an impressive variety of swings – plastic swings, contoured to young bodies, great disc-shaped swings to lie in, straight-seated and bucket-shaped swings, swings shaped like animals.

There is no doubt that children love them, but equally beatific smiles play across the faces of kids with one foot in the loop of old river rope out front here.

The other day, enjoying lunch on the porch, I caught its movement out of the corner of my eye. No children were nearby but the swing was in motion.

A delighted growl, and the flash of a tail revealed why. Our young dog Omaha (also found abandoned along the Ohio River and given a home here) had discovered the possibilities of the old rope. Firmly gripping it in his jaws he backed as far as he could, ran through an arc and briefly took flight.

There is something about that swing kids can't resist.

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