Never too Old to Watch…and Play

I became old—officially—on July 4th.

Blame our neighborhood park, where DH and I celebrated Uncle Sam’s 243rd birthday. After 27 years living here, it was past time.

We walked onto the long expanse of green grass and eyeballed the park’s passel of playground equipment.

I recognized only one of the thinga‐ma‐jigs that surrounded us. 

And that understanding came only with the arrival of two energetic boys.

The pair scrambled atop either end of the long pole then immediately began to pump their legs and feet hard into the ground.

See‐saw! 

I looked again, staring and remembering.

Images of childhood see‐saw rides flooded. Austin Elementary School and a little girl trying to ride a thick, wide wood plank, the boards themselves mirrors of a homebuilder’s two‐by‐four. What followed those rides, inevitably, were the curses of splinters left behind. Pun intended. 

But this century’s log‐saw comes sweetly repurposed, offering redemption for old recess injuries.

A long piece of wood—either a skinny tree trunk or a thick oak branch—lays balanced and centered, atop a funky H‐frame lever device (sorry, an engineering lexicon never married my vocabulary). There’s a metal disc for sitting so today’s riders suffer no more splinters. A recycled steel bar and tire remnants support hands and feet.

Then there’s this gizmo.

Can you explain what this is?

How do you play with it?

The green topper reminds me of what sits in my kitchen sink.

What the…? My mind races through all sorts of possibilities. Zilch. Nada. What the…? When I repeat myself, trouble looms.

I walk closer, zooming in the camera. Then I notice no children are playing here, a comforting thought for this oldster.

Less than a handful of youngsters ventured close. Fewer still stepped up and touched the pole. We all figured out, from brave demonstration, the thing swings around but none could reach Green Sponge‐y. I didn’t care to try.

Eventually, even I turned away.

This round swing‐a‐thingy elicited belly mounts and familiar cries.

Higher‐higher‐higher! came the youngest voices as parents and older siblings obeyed commands.

At last, I smiled. It felt nice to understand.

Throughout the afternoon, my neck craned then ached from watching endless activity throughout the park. I counted eight permanent pieces of playground equipment, recognizing only three. See‐saw/Log‐saw, the swing set, and a kiddie tunnel.

I’d post pictures of the other five structures for you but then I’d have nothing to report next week.

I’m going back. Gonna ride all eight of these and figure them out.

After all, playgrounds are for adults, too.

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