I don’t recall where I first read about the book Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome. If I had to guess, I would say one of the homeschooling catalogs I receive. Regardless, ever since then, it had been in the back of my mind for quite some time, as we had been taking fewer road trips as a family, and therefore had less time for, and need of, a good audiobook. Further, much to my dismay (and actually with mixed emotion), I’m realizing my kids are growing up! My two older boys are now well into teen-hood and not as sanguine about the family road trip and mom-selected “in-flight entertainment,” as I like to call it. As luck would have it, I’m actually doing a fair amount of car travel with my two younger sons this summer, and resignation turned to elation when it dawned on me that I could start anew with them. So, that’s a long way around explaining how we recently got to Swallows and Amazons.
Set in 1929 in the English countryside, Swallows and Amazons chronicles the type of summer days and unbridled adventure that I dream of for my own children. Setting sail in what I imagine to be the Lakes District, the Walker children (with their parents’ blessing) strike out to camp by themselves on an island and encounter challenges, both physical world and human. The story reminds me of my own childhood, where long hours stretched out before me, and I actually had to figure out what to do to keep myself entertained. The warm breeze, riding my bike without anywhere to be, just a time to be home for dinner. Untethered, unencumbered, by technology or other constraints. My younger two are enjoying the story thus far, even with the characters’ use of now-antiquated language such as referring to “the natives” as part of their make-believe adventures.
All in all, I myself am glad to be back, listening to the wonderful world of literature as my kids and I continue to explore our own world this summer. “Swallows and Amazons for ever!”
Post Script: Yesterday, walking through my sister’s house, I stumbled upon the rest of the books in the Arthur Ransome series of Amazons and Swallows. Neither my sister nor I grew up knowing about these books, and a friend had recently given her six volumes, not realizing that I had just discovered the first book and was listening to it in the car. I will have to find these next volumes on audio. Serendipity!