Double bounce to happiness

I spent many hours as a young child in the back garden on the old trampoline that seemed like it had been on the property longer than the house itself.

It seemed like it would outlast the house itself; roots and grass had grown around the frame of the trampoline, anchoring it there in the middle of the garden.

It had two holes repaired with patches made of a rough material that I avoided every time I bounced.

One hole was from the time a stray firework burned through the black mesh and the other was from when I bounced a little too high, only to find my legs bursting through the trampoline matting.

Clinging on to the battered black mat were rusty springs, several of which were missing, an ominous reminder of the time I lost control and found myself entangled in the army of abrasive coils.

The reassuring blue pads had been shed long ago, revealing the cold steel frame which wields an electric shock that I would always forget to avoid.

Needless to say, bouncing on this trampoline was a perilous affair, a dance with the devil.

But however dangerous and decrepit this trampoline may seem, it was a treasure chest full of memories - a portal into the magical realm of the outdoors, an old friend.

Nowadays, homes are becoming more urbanised and our youth more fixated on technology.

Families are choosing the paved courtyard over the lush back garden and our youth are choosing flat screens and video games over ''double bounces'' and jungle gyms.

When I was younger, warm summer days were spent playing backyard cricket, building tree huts and bouncing on the trampoline.

These were the finest things imaginable.

Is the simple joy of bouncing on a trampoline as a young child being threatened by the possibilities that the age of technology holds?

As families move on from spacious back gardens, aren't they also moving on from the magical feeling of spending an afternoon lounging in a warm breeze while listening to a barbecue crackle?

And as children turn their back on their back-yard trampolines, aren't they also saying goodbye to the feeling of freedom that comes as you reach the apex of each bounce?

No more stories of close encounters with the tree which overhangs the end of the trampoline or epic games of ''1,2,3, home''.

I believe there is a certain sense of Kiwi culture and pride found in all New Zealand back yards that are home to a trampoline.

And if we are to take pride in our country, we should take pride in not only big things like the Rugby World Cup, but the little things too - little things like the joy of bouncing on a back-yard trampoline.

Trampolines are part of what connects our youth to the outdoors and part of what connects adults to their past. They can provide exercise and entertainment, as well as evoke senses of nostalgia and freedom.

Trampolines can help us appreciate and become fond of nature.

They can allow us to remember who we are, and take pride in who we are.

So if you are ever faced with the decision between a home with a back garden and one without, never underestimate the importance of a house with a back garden; especially if the garden is anchored to this Earth by a humble trampoline.


• By Nick Patchett, Year 13, Otago Boys' High School



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