Backyard Memories

Jake Disselkamp, ECHO Contributing Writer

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As I walked down the steps leading onto the patio, a cool autumn breeze gave me chills. I looked out into the large backyard of the house I have lived in most of my life, seeing childhood memories. There was the dilapidated wooden swing I helped my dad build years ago. He taught me lots about woodworking. Over the years, we tried to keep it in shape through sanding and recoating.

To the left sat the towering oak tree that my siblings and I used as base when we played tag as kids. To the right was a smaller, more elegant maple tree. My siblings and I had planned to build a tree house on it, but Mom would never let us because she loved the way it looked naturally. 

The leaves had changed from a rich green to lighter shades of red and yellow, and about half of them had fallen to the ground. The ground was coated in a thick layer. My dog rolled around in them, kicking them in complete disorder, having the time of his life — reminding me how much I loved playing in the leaves as a child. I would build the biggest pile I could, get a running start, then jump into it, creating an explosion of leaves.

Looking back at the swing, I noticed that one of the wooden planks supporting the bottom was falling off the left side, and it was only hanging by a screw on the other. The coating was peeling, and the wood underneath was beginning to rot.

When we were kids, that swing would hold me and my three siblings together. But now, sitting on it alone would cause it to crumble. As life got busier, my dad and I forgot about the swing.

Looking again at the maple tree, I realized how beautiful it had become. It’s lost branches and the way it contorted caused asymmetry that embodied the elegance of imperfection. Its age gave it a beauty like no other, something I had not noticed until that moment.


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