Thursday, October 14, 2010

the pipe and the tree

When I lived in Lahaina there was a day care center that used the church facilities. When we moved there in 1975 the preschool director told my sister and I that we could play there during operating hours if we behaved ourselves. Lahaina Day Care Center had no surrounding fences and until they finally moved and enclosed the playground to comply with child care laws no child disappeared.
The playground equipment included monkey bars made of steel strong enough that you probably could have driven a car into them and they would stay intact. There was a tall slide and swings that were just looped chain and no strap at the bottom to sit on. Best of all was a 40 inch wide corrugated metal pipe about 10 feet long. You could crawl into or through the pipe or if you were adventurous you could remove the 4x4 plank of wood from its side and roll in it. Referred to as ‘the pipe’ it could be ridden in with others pushing it and if you sat right you would go upside down.
The next coolest thing in the playground was a banyan tree. This towered 20 to 30 feet in a traditional tree shape. The trunk had no split or handhold for at least 10 feet up so it couldn’t really be climbed. The tree was high maintenance dropping leaves one season and berries another. Mynah birds lived in it and congregated noisily every evening. One night I heard a loud series of cracks like firecrackers. An upper limb of the tree fell off. The groundskeepers took this as a sign and basically decapitated the tree. The trunk stood bare and sunlight bathed the ground beneath for the first time in perhaps decades.
The day care center was under new ownership and called a preschool now. By then the playground had been moved to the back of the school where it could be properly fenced. The swings had com apart too much to repair and the pipe was fixed in place. Over the years the tree grew back. When I last saw it in 2005 it showed no sign of the barbering 20 years back. I’m sure the mynahs are back too.

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