Nothing quite like a porch swing to get you outside where all the senses can kick in, where you will notice stuff. You will hear birds and evening frog songs, smell flowers and fresh-mowed lawns, see the dusk flicker of lightening, feel the breeze, and enjoy a quiet beverage of choice (depending on time of day).
But when I was a kid, I knew better than to disturb my father whenever his gaze drifted off into the distance while he was swaying to and fro on a big porch swing – he usually had a genesis of an inventive idea going on.
The college professor, holder of patents to several cutting edge robots and/or the computers that managed them, fleshed out most of his unique creations with one hand on the nearest suspension chain; he spent so many hours there his upper arm literally grew around the chain, developing a permanent deep dent in the muscle.
He actually outlasted two of the S-hooks that supported the chains, slowly wearing them clean through. They set him on the floor. Twice.
And amazingly it was just fast enough to confound the ‘skeeters, which couldn’t attack a moving target.
All you had to do to join him was back up towards it until it gently scooped you up in such a smooth motion with so little disturbance nobody would likely spill their drink (an important consideration). With just a nod of the head, you could get his heavy swing moving quietly with a just-audible sigh, either forward and backward or even a little side to side.
Over the years we had lots of quiet murmuring conversations, during one of which he explained why his swing was so much more relaxing than the small A-frame contraption Granny had out in side yard that was too frenetic, squeaking rapidly back-and-forth on its short chain and so wobbly it prevented anyone from sitting in it easily once it got going.
He said “The period of the arc is proportional to the radius of the circle.” Other words, the longer the chain, the longer the swing took to complete a cycle. So to this day every time I start to sit in a swing, I look up to calculate whether it will be a slow, smooth, relaxation or a jerky roller coaster.
A dear garden corresponding friend from Crawford, Mississippi, recently wrote to me that “Times change, people change, but, like the porch swing, there are some things that just need to be brought forward into the present. Both to recreate the peace they brought us in our younger days, and to share this peaceful pastime with those who never experienced it so they can grow some memories too…”
But this week I got a leg up on even my dear old Dad – in the form of a pair of shiny oversized springs made specifically for porch swings. Strong enough to support the weight of the swing and at least three passengers, but resilient enough to add a sweet little bounce. Not anything sexy, just a cushion of comfort that can’t be described. You gotta experience it to understand.
Here’s to a resurgence in porches, and swings with long chains. And bouncy swing springs.
Oh, and if you are interested in learning about a couple or three really cool “garden -saints” – including one for garden swings – check out this blog of mine…