have a hammock now, my daughters and I. Itís slung loose and
low between two big oaks in my backyard, right near the raspberry
bushes and beneath the neighborís genuflecting branches of
I wasnít really keen on buying it. I didnít want to be wrapped
up in the kind of string used to tie white paper around rib
roasts and then suspended in the air like one of those inflatable
bunnies you see in trees around Eastertime.
The girls and I stood looking at hammocks in Loweís when it
was still muddy and rainy, upstate New Yorkís poor excuse
for spring. One thing we donít need is a hammock, I said.
The one thing we do need, Madeleine said firmly, is a hammock.
She was convinced that buying a hammock was good way to symbolize
our faith that summer would eventually come.
I found her optimism irritating. We didnít need a hammock.
We needed two freaking days in a row without rain. We needed
to finish raking last fallís leaves so the dandelions could
make a fresh assault our scrappy lawn.
We needed the damage from the ice dam repaired. We needed
to take off our snow tires. We needed the glacial cirques
winter had scoured into our driveway mended with some hot
tar and tamped down by someone with the strength of a behemoth.
I bought the hammock.
I bought it, muttering all kinds of warnings in the checkout
is really not necessary. Just consider this part of your birthday
present. And Iíve already spent too much on your birthday
present. And I donít know where weíre going to be able to
hang this. Or whoíll hang it for us.Ē
What a pleasant shopping companion I was. Then I hauled the
cumbersome box out to the car like Simon of Cyrene carrying
the cross to Golgotha. We shoved it in the Camry, then stored
it in the garage and then one day we managed to get it hung.
And one day the rain stopped. And one day the kids got out
of the hammock long enough for me to get into it. It was still
cold out. But it wasnít raining. And I brought a blanket with
And then it happened: I fell in love with my hammock.
It doesnít really work to lie in a hammock with a blanketóit
leaves your bottom cold. But that didnít matter. A cold bottom
was a small price to pay for that dreamy feeling of suspension,
the cradling grip of the mesh and the slow and steady rocking
as the breeze moved it back and forth, back and forth.
At last spring has made its way into full-blown summer. Iím
discovering there really isnít much worth doing that canít
be done in a hammock.
For example, Madeleine and Linnea can wait in the hammock
while I go to the grocery store. Then, they can carry in all
the packages and put them away while I curl up with this weekís
copy of People magazine.
But you donít have to do only lowbrow reading in the hammock.
Iíve got a lot of serious reading to do for the classes Iíll
teach in the fall. Lutheran theology, world religions, the
rise of fundamentalismóif you have to read this kind of stuff,
isnít it best done in a hammock?
The same goes for the checkbook. Yes, itís tricky. The bills
do tend to blow all over the yard. The Zebra mechanical pencil
that I use in my checkbookómakes erasing my errors in subtraction
all that much easierófalls through the mesh a lot. Getting
in and out of the hammockófirst because I forgot the stamps,
then because I forgot the return-address labels, then because
I need a refill on my seltzeróis tedious. But not nearly as
tedious as doing bills on the dining room table with the light
fixture swinging over my head like an interrogation lamp.
And there is a lot of fun stuff to do in the hammock. Madeleine
and I have learned how to play backgammon in the hammock.
Thatís a mouthful to say and even harder to do. It requires
balance and poise and the skill to resist sneezing. I like
backgammon in the hammock because I win more often this wayówhich
is to say Iím less of a loser than usual.
Hammocks are custom-made for cuddling because your arms and
legs are thrown together willy-nilly like a supine version
of Twister. The Puritans could never have enforced bundling
if they had slept in hammocks.
On the other hand, I think hammocks are pretty chaste environments.
Iíve heard tell they can withstand the slings and arrows of
fevered passion, but Iím not sure I trust my sources.
Which gets round to things that canít be done in the hammock.
And if Iím honest, thereís a lot I have to get out of the
hammock to do. Like writing this column.
But Iím finished with that right now. And I donít want to
think about the other things I canít do in a hammock.
Instead, I want to think about fixing a little plate of stinky
French cheeses and fresh blackberries. I want to think about
pouring a glass of icy vinho verde. I want to think
about balancing all that on a table with a citronella candle,
and all of it within easy reach from my swaying, mesh womb
in the trees.
can contact Jo Page at firstname.lastname@example.org.