Photo, Swing Boats © Georgios Alexandris courtesy of Dreamtime. Used with permission.
They sat, side by side,
in boats of yore,
two erstwhile travellers
sailing across the sea.
They were five and six. Two sisters. Almost identical in look. Eighteen months apart in age.
They sat, each to a swing. Side by side.
The swings were at Heritage Park, a historical village in the city that depicts "How the West Was Once' on the prairies long before concrete towers and paved parking lots replaced prairie grass and buffalo.
The swings were wooden boats suspended from a wooden frame, painted blue and red and gold. The boats creaked as I stood between them pushing one and then the other. One and then the other.
Higher! Higher! cried one little girl.
Not too high, cried the other.
The younger one stood up. Arms spread wide to either side, she leaned out beyond the 'helm' of the boat. "Look at me! Look at me!" she called out, smile beaming, hair streaming around her face.
"Be careful!" called her sister. She reached out one hand from where she sat as if to stop her. she kept her butt firmly planted on the wood seat of the swing. "Mum! Make her stop. She'll get hurt."
I smiled. "It's ok, honey. She's having fun."
A woman approached me, small child in tow, tiny hand gripped firmly in her protective grasp. The child minced her steps to keep up to her mother.
"Do you have to use both swings?" she asked. "My daughter would like to use one."
Surprised, I stopped pushing. Liseanne, my youngest daughter, the one taken to living dangerously by swinging high, sat down quickly.
"We're just leaving," Alexis, my eldest daughter of sound mind and cautious feet, piped up.
"We are?" asked Liseanne.
"Yes," replied her sister. "We've swung long enough."
We went to the bakery after that. Bought a loaf of delicious sour dough bread. The girls ate the crust and left the insides. They always did that at Heritage Park.
We ran through the fields. Rolled down hillsides. Stopped and watched cattle graze. A horse drawn carriage ride. A turn on the Ferris wheel, circa 1880. We wandered through turn of the century houses. Crystal glasses set beside china plates on a lacy tablecloth, waiting through the years as if the family would be returning from across the centuries any moment now. We sat in tiny wooden desks in a one room school house, admired an original Ford, ate an ice cream cone in the Parlour of the Beer Hall where cowboys once plunked a dime upon the counter and ordered up a brew and girls danced in flouncy skirts and feathered headpieces to the tinny sounds of an upright piano.
And when the day was done, tired and replete, we climbed into the car and drove home. We laughed and chatted over dinner, the girls bickering as they often did over who's turn it was to clear the table, scrape the plates, load the dishwahser, empty the garbage, feed the dog.
I listened as I tidied up, letting them negotiate their own way to common ground in their chores.
"I cleared the table last night," said one.
"But, I helped mom unload the dishwasher," said the other.
I waited to hear what would be the next point of negotiation.
"But you made me get off the swing today before I was ready," said the youngest. "You should have to clear the table to make it up to me."
"The little girl wanted to use it," replied her sister.
"Then you should have given her your swing," said Liseanne.
"I didn't want you to get hurt," replied Alexis. She turned towards where I had retreated to watch them from the chair in my tiny office alcove off the kitchen. "Mom." she said in her sternest voice. "You have to take better care of us. You can't let Liseanne just do what she wants. She could have fallen off the swing today."
"But I didn't!" said Liseanne.
"Well, you might have if I hadn't made you stop," said her big sister. She came and stood in front of me. Big brown eyes wide. A serious expression on her face. She looked me in the eyes. "You've got to take better care of her mom. She could get hurt."
And I wrapped my arms around my eldest daughter's shoulders and held her close. "I would give the world to never let either of you get hurt." I told her, holding tight. "But I can't promise that you won't. Get hurt. Life does that sometimes. Hurts us. That's why we've got to love each other with all our hearts. So the hurts don't hurt so bad."
She put her tiny arms around my neck. "I love you."
"I love you too."
And from across the room her sister came running, full speed ahead, arms wide, hair streaming behind her, smile wide upon her face. Laughing, she threw her body toward where Alexis and I hugged and landed on her sister's back.
"Awww! That hurt!" cried Alexis.
"No it didn't" replied Liseanne as she wrapped her arms around her sister and hugged her. "I love you."
"I love you too," said her sister.
"I love you both," I said, holding my daughters in my arms.
"It still hurt," said Alexis.
"No it didn't," replied Liseanne.
"Yes it did."
"Stop," I laughed. "It's bath time."
And off we traipsed to the bathroom where sailing boats and foreign seas hid amidst bubbles and laughter.
It's another Blog Carnival Tuesday over at Peter Pollock's place.
One word prompt. Write a story. A poem. a verse.
Today's word is "Swing". And you're invited to play, or just read...
Sail on over to Peter's place and check out the other treasures writers from across the globe have left for you to enjoy!