Sunday 18 November 2012

My Days As a Pirate Are Over

I caught some of a movie today called “Bridge to Terabithia”. I generally like these kinds of escape-from-the-day-to-day reality movies, and this one looks like it will be a good way for me to spend some of the remaining hours of my life. I set the machine to tape sometime next week and now I just have to wait.

One of the things in the movie that I liked was the way the two kids managed to enter this magical land. They swung across a small stream on a rope. How cool is that? There have been a few times in my life when I have had the opportunity to swing out on a rope and if you are a regular reader or even just not a moron, you will know that I am about to tell you about them.
The first time that I can remember, was at my grandmothers cottage. Friends of ours, the Fry’s, had a cottage that was up the lake and on the point. Their cottage wasn’t one of the choice lots, being built mostly on a stone out cropping and there was virtually no beach. The lake there had a steep drop off which was perfect for boat launching, fishing and swinging out over the lake on a rope of course. The water was always colder there than at the shallow end of the lake, but it was fine once you got used to it. In fifteen years I don’t think I ever got used to it, it was really cold there!
The rope swing meant different things at different ages for us. When we were smallish just getting up the courage to swing on the rope was reason enough. It took a “double-dog-dare” to get me to swing the first time. Later on we would all take turns pretending to be pirates that were boarding a treasure ship. It never occurred to us that if we had actually been pirates we would have just dropped into the ocean and become fish food. We didn't make sense back then, we made fun. Still later in life it was fun to swing out with girls and I can’t imagine how Les’s parents could tolerate the shrieks and laughter. I can still feel the little rush in my stomach every time that I let go of the rope.
The next time I could swing through space was just after Louise and I had moved in together and were living on O'Connor Drive in Scarborough Ontario. We did a lot more roaming and exploring back in those days, not having cable or even a TV that would work reliably. There was and is still a ravine nearby which was perfect to get away from the city without being too far from toilets or munchies. One day while we were exploring, we saw this huge tree that overhung the ravine, and at the furthermost point of the furthest branch, was a fire hose. Now, although we weren't always completely lucid on these walks, we were pretty sure that the hose was there for fun and not in case of a brush fire. Where did that hose come from? It must have weighed in excess of a hundred pounds. I can’t imagine how anyone would have been able to shinny out on that branch carrying an end of the hose and then be able to tie it on to the branch. I would have been and still would be terrified. It was frightening enough just swinging on it at all. It was so very long that the swing seemed to take minutes to come back to the beginning. Lucky for me there was a large knot to sit on because even in my prime I wouldn't have been able to hang on for that long.

We eventually moved from that apartment, but I have never left those memories behind. There was a rope swing at one of the camps during Brendan’s scout years, but by then I was smart enough not to trust the engineering skills of teenage boys. I think my days as a pirate are over. Mind you, if a treasure ship happens to sail near the shore and there is a convenient tree reaching out over the water… 

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