“If you get the breath knocked out of you, sniff air through your nose, and you will recover quicker.” My cousin had returned home from Europe for a visit, and we were catching up on recent events and sharing experiences.

“I wished you had told me this a few months ago,” I replied.

“Oh, why is that?” he asked. In reality, I did not want to explain; it had not been one of the finer moments my life. “Wow, you hesitated, so this story must be a good one!” he said with a grin.

“Ok fine, but no laughing,” I demanded.

“Of course not, ” my cousin said nodding. I should have known from the grin he was trying to hide he did not intend to keep his promise.

rwgropeswingSeveral months ago, I saw an old rope in the storage building; I did not think about it again until I went walking down by the local creek. The steep banks covered entirely by trees, on the western side of the creek, gave me an exciting idea. Early, the next Saturday morning, I climbed the precarious banks covered in dead leaves and loose stones looking through the low hanging limbs for just the right branch. Then among the many limbs, I found one that was easy to reach. Tying a stone to one end of the rope, I threw the rope over the selected limb twice to take up the slack. After carefully determining the proper length, just above ground level, I secured the loop with multiple knots to complete the swing. Placing my foot in the loop, and stepping back for a running start, I pushed off the bank. In one moment, I went from fear to joy as I swung out high over the creek. On later swings, I was able to touch low hanging leaves and limbs in nearby trees. I repeated this newfound diversion numerous times for another hour until I heard a loud crack in mid-flight of one of my most powerful swings. Being several feet off the ground, and having plenty of forward momentum, I bounced several times on the bank as I tumbled towards the bottom. I tried to stop my plummet several times, but I was at gravity’s mercy, and it was going to teach me a lesson. The last bounce threw me against a tree root overhanging the creek’s edge. Stunned, I did not feel my final landing in the creek until water began to soak through my jeans. The cool water immediately gave me a shock and the need to inhale, but I could not. My lungs were tighter than a clenched fist; I made terrible noises straining to draw in morsels of air to satisfy my screaming lungs. Slowly, I began to recover with abbreviated gasps that eventually ceased the thundering desire for oxygen in my head.

My cousin roared with laughter as soon as I explained that the limb had broken. “ You promised!” I said disappointedly.

“Well, what did you think was going to happen? An old rope, a weak tree limb, or swinging twenty feet above the creek: I mean you tell me, which part of this story does not scream bad idea?” my cousin asked.

Reluctantly I relented, “All of the above I guess.”

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