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Favorite Things: Lansing poet laureate Laura Apol and her swing set

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When my kids were little and there was a full moon, I would take them out to a local park to swing by the moonlight. It became one of the things we did. When we moved to Michigan, I bought a house with a swing set in our backyard.

When I did it with my children, I didn’t just push them. I was always part of it. I made sure we were all doing it. Both of my children had very positive associations with it and remembered it with a lot of fondness.

But when my kids grew up, a tree fell on it and it was late enough in their lives that I didn’t replace it.

This last year, I realized how much I missed swinging by moonlight. As a parent and as a poet, I didn’t see any reason why I couldn’t enjoy swinging. I had been thinking about it for a long time and thought it is time now. When I had this one built, the lovely person built ledges where I can put wine, coffee or my cell phone. I call it an adult version.

It is very therapeutic and peaceful. It connects me to nature and the world around me. I go out on it a couple of times a week.

For a poet, it is also a wonderful meditative and rhythmic thing. You feel the rhythm inside your body, the motion of your body. I also have a collection of poetry called “Celestial Bodies.” In it there are 13 poems that take place on a full moon. The first of those is about swinging by moonlight.

Maybe adults quit swinging because they are a little embarrassed. I find myself at playgrounds and city parks and I don’t need a reason to go to these places. I’ve given myself permission.

I think that it is one of those things where children can be happy and solitary. It can be done with other people. Everyone has memories of parachuting out and having contests who can swing the highest. It is also something that can be happily done by oneself. There is physicality and freedom, with your hair blowing and feet above your head, seeing the ground, then seeing the trees. When you are doing it by moonlight, it is like you are flying to the moon.

There is a joy and freedom to being untethered to the earth.

(This interview was edited and condensed by Dennis Burck. If you have a recommendation for “Favorite Things,” please email dennis@lansingcitypulse.com.)

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