Okay, I’ll admit it: I’m proud of myself. 

I had a vision for a space next to the house. Earlier, it was a wisteria arbor with a bench…until the relentless southwesterly winds and the top-heavy wild wisteria turned my well anchored structure into an unsalvageable leaning tower of nature-over-human.

I cut down the never-blossoming wisteria; poisoned the root. Sawed the ruined arbor into manageable bits with a tiny saber saw and a whole lot of determination. Waited in vain for the trash guys to haul away the honkin’ big cement anchors, until I could disguise them well enough to hide in the trash. Gone at last. The only remainder is the valiant cone flower plant that marks where the side pillars stood.

Something wanted to go there. Something that would be tougher to topple. A swing. Yes.

I have been swingless since the flood that washed my dad’s cherished home-made double glider away without a trace. Not that it worked. A shifting hillside, and a long-ago fallen tree had robbed the swing of its swingability. But it had remained a lovely place to sit and harbor fantasies of getting someone to rebuild it. But now, no swing. Gone to the power of the floodwaters.

So. A swing. I wanted a Uwharrie Swing. I didn’t want to pay what they cost. So I looked for an alternative. Ahhhh…a cedar log swing. Left to weather naturally. With climbing roses up both sides. Yes yes yes.

The nice folks I ordered it from had it delivered just as promised. It was waiting for me when I arrived on Friday evening. Saturday morning was spent putting it together. A two-person job, it was suggested. Sorry, nope. Just me. So I took deep breaths, remembered to bend my knees when I lifted, and reached back for the tool-memory that was a lifelong gift from my father.

How does one lift a ginormous log A-frame into its standing place? With ingenuity, it turns out. I measured it from bottom of the crossbeam to the ground. I measured my ladder. Almost right. So I set up the ladder in a secure spot, hoisted the legs and crossbeam to the top of it, and balanced them while I secured the six angle bars that would make it stand strong. The seat I jockeyed to the top of my red wagon and rolled it under the A-frame until I could haul up one side at a time to the S-hooks that would let me swing.

Then friend Anne arrived for her abbreviated weekend stay. A enthusiastic and energetic master gardener, Anne is not a person to be daunted by any physical task, despite her small stature. She dug the new beds garden beds that would flank the swing and prepared the soil for its new plantings, while I, in three attempts, finally got the pitch of the swing seat right.

We planted one side with climbing Don Juan roses (own root stock from a great company called Heirloom Roses), and Anne found plants from other parts of the property to keep the little plant from being lonely. She kept digging the second side bed while I fetched water. 

We went out and sat in the swing to gauge how well it captured its sunset-watching potential (perfect) and later discovered that it is a great star watching spot, too. And that was Saturday. 

Sunday, more planting, including the remaining pair of  river birches and the overcup oak; the latter on the steep hillside in what will someday be an oak grove (the little swamp oak that miraculously survived the flood is flourishing; its joyous, exuberant spray of thick chartreuse leaves visible over the crest of the hill even from the patio…a smile-making little guy if ever there was one.) The two river birches now have a home on the lower bank.

The trees I planted last weekend are already showing signs of being happy where they are. The carrying of ten-gallon buckets of water and 25 pound bags of mulch down the very very steep hill to the new trees have put a whole lot of feel-the-burn into my exercise bank. I wish I could take photos as my friend Liz does on her delightful blog Mabelshouse@blogspot.com. But for now I’ll have to paint the picture in words. And deliver a whole basketful of thanks to dear Anne who never saw a challenge she would not master with will and a ton of heart.

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