Spring Swingers

I lived in Montreal for half a dozen years in the 1950s, and I recall winters when the snow seemed endless. There was so much of it that the city didn’t just plow, it trucked the stuff away and dumped it in the St. Lawrence River. People said you knew it was spring when the sidewalks came up.

In recent years, spring also brings a long line of musical swing sets, erected on a narrow strip of land beside a busy downtown street. They’re not just for children–they’re for everybody. I can imagine how delighted Montrealers are when the sidewalks emerge and so do the swings.

There are 21 in all, as brightly colored as crayons, and each one has been programmed with its own set of musical notes that are triggered if it’s in motion. When swingers manage to rise and fall in unison, they can produce complex melodies—an experiment in cooperation. This interactive art installation by a Canadian design collective called Daily tous les jours lasts only a few weeks each year in Montreal, but this summer (2014) it also went on the road and joined the Green Box Arts Festival in Green Mountain Falls, CO.

The couple in this photograph seem to be having a great time. If you ask me, older people need more chances to play like this.

Do you suppose if couch potatoes like me swing enthusiastically enough, that qualifies as a workout? If not, maybe it would motivate one.