By popular request: The Playground of Death (and Rebirth)

Back in the woods, near  the community’s cemetery, lies the Playground of Death and Rebirth.  Several paths lead there — the main path that I use is scattered with warning signs like “Play at Your Own Risk” and an actual random abandoned gravestone.  The entrance to the playground hosts my favorite sign on the commune:

Be Carefully, If You Are To Be At All

The playground itself is made up of a motley assortment of scrap material: old net hammocks (which were discontinued because of a recall), large wooden spools and boxes, plastic tubing, and of course, polypropelene hammock rope.  Roughly-cut circular wooden swings hang 20-30 feet in the air, suspended from tree branches with thick braids of polypro strung through the center of the seat and knotted beneath.  There are platforms to climb and swing from, being careful to lift your legs up on the backswing, and watching for other wayward swingers coming from other directions.

Swings!

The largest swing is called the Swing of Affliction.  its rope is hanging from a branch about 30 feet high.  The platform for the Swing of Affliction is actually a dilapidated tower about 12 feet high.  Usually someone who intends to swing will climb halfway up the tower and then have a friend hand them the swing (it’s a bit hard to climb to begin with, much less tethering a heavy wooden swing).  Once at the top level (or the second-to-the-top, depending on your guts), the prospective swinger has to hold the rope, and position the swing in front of them.  The rope isn’t really long enough to get the swing actually between your legs and under your rear, so you have to jump into the air first, and hope you land accuately.  The first downswing is a mild freefall that I wish lasted longer, and then the rope pulls taut and swings you up up up towards the trees and the sky, and on clear nights, the stars.  My favorite time to ride the Swing of Affliction is on a dark moonless night, so from the top of the tower you feel like you’re jumping into an endless abyss… and then swinging back and forth in the darkness as the swing slows and finally ends in stillness.

the tower of the Swing Of Affliction

The other feature of the Playground of Death (and Rebirth) is the tiered hammock nets.  Old net “backpacker hammocks” were strung together in layers to create huge baskets about 10 feet accross.  These were hefted up and anchored between trees to create a series of  circus-style nets,  one low, one medium, and  one about 20 feet in the air.  I don’t like these.  They scare me.  I didn’t get a good picture of them, just the warning sign:

Net Warning

There you have it, folks.  The Playground of Death.

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