09 April 2014

The Rope Swing

I haven't written anything worth sharing recently, or cooked anything worth writing about. It's been full speed treading water for a while here. I have a novel I'm supposed to be writing, a writing class I'm not keeping up with, and a letter I should have written months ago that I haven't started. 

It's an important letter, and I hope it will be a good and helpful letter, but it will also be a hard letter to write, and a sad one, so I keep putting it off because I am a much better person in theory than I am in practice. But as long as I haven't written that letter I don't feel that I can sit down and write anything else.

And so here I am, with something someone else wrote, because maybe you want to read something wonderful. I've read Charlotte's Web to my boys several times now. E.B. White's prose is magical. I could put almost any of his descriptive passages here to show you what I mean, but the rope swing is my favorite. His phrases swing you in and out of the barn. It makes me feel the wind on my face, the weightlessness at the top of the swing, the lurch as you come back down, and the joy of the flight. It makes me wish I could go to Zuckerman's barn and try it. See if it doesn't do the same for you.

Mr. Zuckerman had the best swing in the county. It was a single long piece of heavy rope tied over the north doorway. At the bottom end of the rope was a fat knot to sit on. It was arranged so that you could swing without being pushed. You climbed a ladder into the hayloft. Then, holding the rope, you stood at the edge and looked down, and were scared and dizzy. Then you straddled the knot, so that it served as a seat. Then you got up all your nerve, took a deep breath, and jumped. For a second you seemed to be falling to the barn floor far below, but then suddenly the rope would begin to catch you, and you would sail through the barn door going a mile a minute, with the wind whistling in your eyes and ears and hair. Then you would zoom upward into the sky, and look up at the clouds, and the rope would twist and you would twist and turn with the rope. Then you would drop down, down, down out of the sky and come sailing back into the barn almost into the hayloft, then sail out again (not quite so far this time), then in again (not quite so high), then out again, then in again, then out, then in; and then you'd jump off and fall down let somebody else try it. 
Mothers for miles around worried about Zuckerman's swing. They feared some child would fall off. But no chlid ever did. Children almost always hang onto things tighter than their parents think they will.
~ E. B. White, Charlotte's Web 


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