I sat down with a friend the other night on a lawn swing after working around the yard. We watched the sun fall behind the pine trees on this cool fall evening. The weather was barely warm enough for us to linger on happily swinging. The swing had two opposing benches and a small table for drinks. The model we were using was a type I see in northern Quebec more often. Instead of the overhead swinging mechanism, the benches sat on two rollers set on grooved rails under the swing.
There is something very calming and restful about rocking back and forth. Everybody loves to rock or swing. It just feels good. There on the swing in the twilight I forgot about any worries or cares and my mind fell into a restful mode as I rocked back and forth while sipping on a warm cup of tea.
We all have good memories of rocking and swinging as children. It is one of those things that we all experience during the first few years of our lives. For many it is a first memory. Most people I know can recall being rocked in their parent's arms as an infant. As toddlers and small children, many of us have memories of being picked up and rocked in bed.
I have great memories of being rocked in bed by my sisters when I was young. I must have been about four or five and too big to be placed in a baby crib. Lucky me as my sisters placed me on a bed, then sat down beside me rocked back and forth on the bedside which produced a rocking motion for me. The mattress slowly moved up and down and the rhythm of the creaking springs put me to sleep in a matter of minutes.
Years later, I baby sat for my sisters and their young families. I was a teenager and I had loads of energy to run after fast footed toddlers full of sugar. I had my turn at rocking my sisters children by sitting at the bedside but I also discovered that one of the best ways to calm a child was to walk them in my arms. Holding a crying infant close while walking quickly calms most upset babies in a short time.
I remember my mom using more traditional ways to calm a baby or small child. She tied two ropes to a wall, then draped a small blanket, sheet or towel in place to hold a baby or a toddler inside. The makeshift swing was quick to setup and the materials were on hand even in a tent out on the land.
There always seemed to be babies in our family and I recall them being rocked to sleep in these makeshift swings in wigwams. Many babies in our family fell asleep tied into one of these swings under the shade of two trees. These instant swings were great for babies and gave mom a break as she could tend to other chores.
The most comforting setup for a sleeping baby was to wrap the child in a Waspooseeyan, a tradition wrap that enveloped a small infant in a tight bundle tied together in warm blankets and an outer layer of heavy cloth and animal hide. This ancient invention worked well to comfort the baby because it made the little one feel cozy, secure and comfortable. It was like falling asleep inside a big hug. It was even better if someone rocked the baby in the Waspooseeyan.
The traditional Tikinagun or cradleboard was also designed to calm a child by rocking. The Tikinagun was a broad flat board that was used to secure a baby. This board included a shoulder or breast strap so that an adult could carry the child in an easy to handle package. A safety hoop of bent wood extended past the child's head, so that in case the board fell, the baby would not be smothered or hurt. It was kind of like a roll cage. While the baby lay comfortably in the Tikinagun, the motion of walking and being handled by adults was enough to swing the tiny tot to sleep. The Tikinagun with a little baby in it always attracted attention. Family members, friends and neighbours were drawn to rock the baby in it at every chance.
I am very happy to have a swing back in my life and I intend to use it often. The inner child in me demands it.www.underthenorthernsky.com
I have always been amazed as an indigenous person how my people connect with each other. No matter where I have travelled in the world, indigenous people of...