While the weather seems to be producing the long hot sunny days of remembered youth (whether or not it was ever actually like that!) I am having a second childhood, exploring all the local playgrounds with M. We are in the amazing position here of having 12 playgrounds within a mile and a half. Two in our village, three in the village a mile East of here, 5 in the village half a mile West of here, 1 North West, and 1 North. Strangely none in the village to the South, which is great if I want a quiet walk! Some of course have only minimal equipment, and some are aimed at only much older children, (in fact all are aimed at older children judging by step sizes) but three are brand new and several are far more interesting than the basic swings, slide and roundabout that I remember in my local park.
My favourite is entirely natural materials, being built mostly of wood with wood chips on the ground, and a few ropes and chains to join things together. It has a good wooden climbing frame for small children at the top end (not shown here) and a larger slide with climbing wall and rope ladder at the other. We walk there through the woods, and have views for miles from the swings.
M is great at choosing what she wants to go on, once she knows it, but she often needs to see how it works the first time. I don’t often see anyone else, (with this many playgrounds to choose from, how would we?) so I am forced to be the example for M to copy. As a result I have been down all manner of slides on one leg, crawled through tiny tunnels, got bruised hips on narrow swings, unbalanced perfectly good roundabouts, fallen off wobbly logs, got dizzy in spinning bowls… but the zip wires are better than anything I remember!
I can tell by M’s face when she is happy and when she isn’t – which can change quite quickly on a swing or a roundabout. Having now had a go on everything, my amazement is that her learning is almost identical to my re-learning in terms of what we are comfortable with. The limit to what the body can take in terms of changes of direction can come quite quickly, and from experience, a gentle slowing is much better than a sudden stop. But the confidence soon grows, both hers and mine, and I’m sure the increasing length of time she will swing for is a good thing.
What does it do for me as a witch? Well I can see the world from a new perspective. Look at things from the other way up. Get the sensation of flying, of freedom, and occasionally of being out of control. Get in touch with the element of Air. And then come back down to Earth again, and explore new ways of grounding. And in terms of connecting with the countryside, while not all are made of natural materials, some are in truly stunning locations.