Today I took Hope for a walk in the Arboretum near out house. We watched the water run over rocks beneath one of the little stone footbridges. We saw butterflies and listened to new birdsongs. We saw trees in the bud and in the blossom. (The Dogwoods opened this weekend. That calls for celebration). I held Hope’s soft chubby hand and we looked at tiny violets and dandelions. Hope thinks dandelions are beautiful flowers and gathered a bouquet for mom. She doesn’t know that most people consider them a nuisance.
She is just now three. I remember when Heidi was her size. Now she is a tall, graceful fourteen year-old.
When Heidi was three or four we had the world’s greatest tree swing. The swing was high in the branches of a Chinese Elm that grew at the corner of our big country house in Knox County. It must have been at least fifteen feet or more off the ground. The children have never collected toys like some kids do. They play with one another and cook up fun things to do. They would play in the creek and tumble in the field and explore the barn, but Heidi’s favorite play thing was her swing.
We all enjoyed the swing, but Heidi especially loved it. She would ride the swing for hours and cry if you took her off. She would cry “higher, higher”. I have in my memory a picture of her in a jumper, her blonde hair blowing in the wind, eyes as blue as the sky, pumping her little bare legs. You couldn’t push the swing high enough to satisfy her. I would push her until the rope slacked and her toes touched the branches of the tree. (But only if her mother was not looking).
One day I was mowing with a brush hog behind a big Farmall H and hooked the swing with the fender of the tractor. I couldn’t stop in time and I pulled the swing down along with the entire branch it was tied to. It came down so easily that I have always wondered if it was rotten and ready to come down at any time anyway. When we hung the swing back up we had to use a branch much closer to the ground so it was about a third of it’s original size.
They don’t make a video game that touches that swing. Cedar Point will never build a ride to rival it.
Someday maybe Heidi will have a child of her own. I hope the Lord blesses her with a dozen. She will take them out back and swing them in a swing or take them for a walk in the park. I hope her mind goes back over the years and across the miles to the back yard of the old farmhouse on Rutledge Road. Only then will she realize the joy she brought to my heart.