Not the swings that were too tall. When I sat on those tall swings, my feet wouldn't quite touch the ground, and that made for bad swinging. It was by the shorter swings that sat in front of the chain link fence.
One summer Sarah and I spent hours on those shorter swings; trying to swing so high, we would circle the top bar. Sarah's brother swore he did it once, but I didn't really believe him.
I think I liked a goal I knew was unreachable - it meant neither Sarah nor I would win or lose. We would reach the same height, until the chains in our hands grew slack and we fell back, feeling the laughter infused wind rushing through our hair.
But this was a new year, and the swings were old news.
This was the year of the turtle.
He was mostly yellow, with dented-in spots of red and green where water would pool after a rain. The metal was warm, but not hot, thanks to the shade of a very large oak tree standing guard over him.
We wanted to start a club. It would be about writing letters, and making stationary. We would sell the stationary, and one day have enough money to move out of our parent's houses. Whatever we didn't sell would be used for letters of our own. This seemed like a solid business plan in our third grade minds.
Markers and paper were snuck out to the playground.
We sat on the turtle and worked, heads bent over notebooks, shadows dancing over our paper from the leaves on the guard tree. We used those leaves and shadows for inspiration, tracing and making rubbings of the leaves for our stationary, and placing it in a pile we called the green collection.
I tried to create a turtle collection one day, but my drawings of turtles looked like lumpy rocks. The idea was quickly abandoned.
I'm not sure that we sold a single sheet. Not even to our parents - who, in their defense, might not have felt very flattered that we were planning to use the profits to move away from them as soon as possible.
When it turned to winter, the turtle became too cold for sitting, and we abandoned our project. Hiding on a limb of the guard tree, snuggled deep into our jackets for warmth, we made a new plan. It involved making beads, and sewing sequins onto denim jackets. This time the move from our parent's houses would lead us to New York, former home of Stacey McGill of Baby-Sitters Club fame.
Whispers of our plans carried on the wind to the turtle below us. Sitting under the guard tree lonely and cold, he waited for spring to come, so his friends would return.
Did you start a club in your school years?
If so, I want to know what it was all about, and if it was successful!