Category Archives: Tire Swings

Round and Round and Round

When my twenty-something daughter was a wee girl, we’d walk hand in hand a few blocks up the street to a small park. The summer sky’s frolicking blue and whispery wisps of cloud were an invitation to the outdoors. The expanse of grass was always a marvelous shade of green speckled with bursts of dandelion and splashes of clover. It was a small patch of play, in a small city, along a small strip of harbour nestled away from the vast ocean’s curling waves.

CurlingWavesPhoto credit – Alexa Cude. Atlantic waves

Invariably on each visit, over a period of several months, we reenacted that children’s classic, The Three Billy Goats Gruff. I was typecast as the troll. My daughter, with nary a missed beat, took on the the role of each of the Goats Gruff in succession with a flourish that only a four-year-old could muster.

There was a perfect little arched bridge leading from one slide platform to another. As the Goats Gruff trip-trapped over the bridge, I would lunge out with a troll-like cry inflected with just the right amount of fright to challenge the saucy Goats Gruff who dared to cross my little stream. Billy Goat Gruff the elder and his trip-trapping, troll trawling ways were always a great canvas for giggles, running and laughter.

3740887053_279d02e05f_o.jpgPhoto credit – Christopher Charles. Three Billy Goats Gruff. License – (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

The neighbourhood playground was also a great spot for getting up close and personal with the dirt, throwing stones, picking flowery weeds, chasing butterflies – all those priceless activities whose only subscription fee is time. There were many fine moments for us at Halifax’s Ardmore Park and the most rollicking was certainly the tire swing.

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Round and round and round we go
Where we stop nobody knows
Round and round on the tire swing
High in sky like a bird on the wing

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Not a million seller this ditty of a tune that’s for sure. It made my daughter and I feel rich beyond compare though as I propelled her through the air with great centrifugal force on an elliptical dipping and dropping trajectory – ‘high in the sky like a bird on a wing’.

The Unorthodox ApproachPhoto credit – Stephanie Sicore. Unorthodox approach. License – (CC BY 2.0).

This vulcanized donut suspended on three chains from a heavy duty swivel hanger was the most grueling, adrenaline-charged ride of the playground. My girl’s appetite for the round and round seemed insatiable. Sometimes when the tire came to a standstill and she unclasped her tiny little fingers from the cold chain links and slipped through the hole tippy toes to the hard-packed earth below she would be a little wobbly.

I never tired of pushing her, or singing the song. It was one of those wonderful simple, timeless pleasures. The playground was made over years ago and the tire swings removed. The song lives on with her younger siblings and will undoubtedly get an airing with her soon-to-be niece

On occasion Alexa and I still find a moment to walk hand in hand but it’s more likely to be a lunch at my office when our schedules permit. She is a wonderful photographer and if you’d like to see some of her work check out seriouslyalexa on instagram. Lots of great photos there including those two much loved scamps in her life, the fearless canine duo – Yeezy and Ace.

Horses with PapsPhoto credit – Alexa Cude. Horses with Scotland’s Paps of Jura in the background

Later today we are celebrating her birthday with a brunch before her lad whisks her away to a mystery destination. Who knows, maybe they’re headed to their local tire swing?

Happy Birthday Alexa
Love Papa

Twelve Days of Christmas Play

On the first day of Christmas
My true love gave to me
A tire swing in an oak tree

5344851996_2d6c899585_bPhoto credit – Derek Buff. License – CC BY-NC 2.0

On the second day of Christmas
My true love gave to me
Two spring riders
And a tire swing in an oak tree

On the third day of Christmas
My true love gave to me
Three monkey bars
Two spring riders
And a tire swing in an oak tree

On the fourth day of Christmas
My true love gave to me
Four splashing pads
Three monkey bars
Two spring riders
And a tire swing in an oak tree

On the fifth day of Christmas
My true love gave to me
Five hollow logs
Four splashing pads
Three monkey bars
Two spring riders
And a tire swing in an oak tree

Eden Log

On the sixth day of Christmas
My true love gave to me
Six slides a slipping
Five hollow logs
Four splashing pads
Three monkey bars
Two spring riders
And a tire swing in an oak tree

On the seventh day of Christmas
My true love gave to me
Seven roundabouts a rounding
Six slides a slipping
Five hollow logs
Four splashing pads
Three monkey bars
Two spring riders
And a tire swing in an oak tree

On the eighth day of Christmas
My true love gave to me
Eight trees for climbing
Seven roundabouts a rounding
Six slides a slipping
Five hollow logs
Four splashing pads
Three monkey bars
Two spring riders
And a tire swing in an oak tree

3742578481_edf317b0efPhoto credit – Oliver Hammond. License – CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

On the ninth day of Christmas
My true love gave to me
Nine fields for running
Eight trees for climbing
Seven roundabouts a rounding
Six slides a slipping
Five hollow logs
Four splashing pads
Three monkey bars
Two spring riders
And a tire swing in an oak tree

On the tenth day of Christmas
My true love gave to me
Ten rocks for scaling
Nine fields for running
Eight trees for climbing
Seven roundabouts a rounding
Six slides a slipping
Five hollow logs
Four splashing pads
Three monkey bars
Two spring riders
And a tire swing in an oak tree

On the eleventh day of Christmas
My true love gave to me
Eleven see-saws sawing
Ten rocks for scaling
Nine fields for running
Eight trees for climbing
Seven roundabouts a rounding
Six slides a slipping
Five hollow logs
Four splashing pads
Three monkey bars
Two spring riders
And a tire swing in an oak tree

2038760_32736d2ee8_oPhoto credit – Vaughn Hannon. License – CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

On the twelfth day of Christmas
My true love gave to me
Twelve messy mudholes
Eleven see-saws sawing
Ten rocks for scaling
Nine fields for running
Eight trees for climbing
Seven roundabouts a rounding
Six slides a slipping
Five hollow logs
Four splashing pads
Three monkey bars
Two spring riders
And a tire swing in an oak tree

The Unbearable Lightness of Swinging

There’s something cosmic about swinging, a certain je ne sais quoi. When I saw Teena Marie Fancey’s Baby Boy at The Craig Gallery on Dartmouth, Nova Scotia’s waterfront a couple of years ago, I knew I had found a great opening image for a paean to swings. Thanks Teena.

Swings are all grace and simplicity as they trace their airy arcs. In downward sweeps there is the tickling acceleration of free fall. Then as the pendulum tracks the outer bounds of its trajectory, the weighty hand of gravity pulls down.

The rise and fall, earth to sky movement is one of the first experiences that parents and children share together at the playground. It’s the bond of the baby swings – push, push away and then fall back into papa or mama’s loving embrace.

There are milestones – graduating from baby to big kids swing, getting on unassisted, giving another child a push, pumping and propelling through the air unaided, standing up swinging, twosome riding one person standing and one sitting, helicoptering and flying off the seat into a heart stopping jump.

And what a variety of swings, of choices – rope, lawn, glider, tire swings and the truly inventive ones like this got you over a barrel model from India.

via flickr by Eileen Delhi. Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Years ago when my art college daughter was just a tyke and I was finding my way as a single dad, we were regulars at a playground not far from our home. We created our own fun activities and for the longest time one of our favourites was the elliptical whirl of the tire swing.

For Alexa the velocity and tilt were exhilarating. For me, the rhythmic repetition of the pushing was a soothing release at the end of the day. We both remember the little ditty we sang together as she whizzed through air…

round and round and round
she goes
where she stops
nobody knows

round and round
on the tire swing
high in the sky
like a bird on a wing

People do love their tire swings and can get downright sentimental about them. Just check this Flickr group dedicated to one of the earlier recycling ideas for an industrial product.

Swings have also become part of the public art vernacular in some cityscapes. For two consecutive summers, Montrealers have been able to create their own downtown symphony of swings with the temporary 21 Balançoires installation. This is one of the more popular PlayGroundology posts.

And who knew that one day this elemental piece of equipment would inspire its own movement? The Red Swing Project installs swings anonymously in unlikely venues. This international band of merrymakers has hung swings in the USA, India, Thailand, Brasil, Taiwan, South Korea, France, Spain, Portugal, Haiti and Poland.

In their timelessness, swings are chic, à la mode.
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I found this lovely necklace by Calourette on a SwissMiss blog post. If you’re not familiar with Tina Roth Eisenberg aka SwissMiss don’t miss her site on all things design which was recently featured on Say:100

And wait, just before we go, did I hear tattoo? Fellow Canadian Marc Johns has created this wonderful line drawing – Playground – that is also available as a tattly. The line drawing looks like this.

Find a few moments this weekend to swing through the summer sky, let your toes touch the stars. We’re never too old for that climb and drop sensation.

Keep on swingin’.