The Latham children loved the woods. There, they found many things to inspire adventure. Wildlife was plentiful. They observed snakes, deer, snapping turtles, and even a stray armadillo! But the trees and other growing things were the most magical. There were oak, walnut, sassafras, and cedar trees. Many were old and gnarled and provided wonderful hiding places and climbing toys.
One area of the woods was a favorite among the little Lathams. The Grapevine Kingdom. Here, was a patch of trees covered with grapevines. The vines seemed to rise unsupported from the ground. They curled and twisted their way to the lowest branches of the trees. Such a beautiful, tangled maze was woven as the vines intersected the branches and trunks. Where I saw a masterpiece of natural beauty, the Little Lathams saw the world’s best jungle gym.
The vines, some of them three inches in diameter, were perfect for swinging. The children clamored over them searching for the ideal swing. Many of the vines weren’t secure enough or flexible enough. It took many tries and a quantity of bumps and bruises before finding the best vine swings. Then the rest of the afternoon was spent in Grapevine Kingdom. The children laughed and screamed. They took turns swinging till their hands were raw.
A day at the park, filled with fancy play equipment, couldn’t compete with the fun they had in the woods. I know because I saw their faces when they came tearing down the path that first day. They were sweaty and covered with scratches. They were all talking at the same time.
“Mom, you won’t believe the grapevines!”
“We’re swinging on them!”
“It’s a Grapevine Kingdom!!”