The art of “Hammock”…

The past few days have given us a taste of things to come… Warm sunny days kept mild and dry by cool breezes. It’s no secret, I hate summer! I live for crisp fall days!

One of my favorite activities on a warm fall day is to relax in my hammock. I learned that there is an art to proper “Hammocking”, and a few years back, on a hot July afternoon, I tried to pass that knowledge on to my son William, who had just turned six a few days before…

I felt a cool breeze come screaming in the living room window, so I got up to look outside. The sky had been a brilliant blue, but off to the east it was collecting clouds.

With each captured cloud that piled up the sky got grayer, and hazier, and it looked like it was trying to build a thunder storm. From the chill in the breeze, if it could work itself out, it would be a doozy!

I decided it might be a good time to relax in the hammock for awhile. I knew if the eastern sky got its way and pulled more of the hot inland air out into its cool ocean embrace, I would be SOAKED to the bone before I made it out of the hammock, and half way to the house…But that was a good thing.

I greeted my hammock, waiting for me in a shady part of the yard that I had created just for such a purpose. I climbed into the hammock and settled into its embrace. I rocked back and forth. I could hear the leaves and the breeze talking to each other. Hidden deep in the canopy the robins were coaxing the rain to come, so they could feast on the nice fat worms that would be forced to the surface. The gentle rocking, the whisper of the wind, “Soon…”

Before long unseen hands and unknown voices conspired against me, and convinced my eyes that they wanted to close. Suddenly I am bathed in colors that only can only be made when your eyes are closed against the sun that has filtered through blowing leaves. A kaleidoscope of oranges, and browns, and grays and blues dance back and forth, being chased by flashes of green and white.

Sometimes when the breeze is hardest, the leaves try to take flight, and the sun can reach me on its own. This is where slate blue, sea green, and orange coexist as one impossible color.

Thinking of all of this, and deciding I should write it down, I discover I am no longer in the hammock. I am racing off on a journey through fields of wildflowers, and trees full of birds. The air is a symphony of dancing breezes, and buzzing flies, bees, and other flying critters. The smells are green, and sweet. I am 10 and the world is mine. I have a whole life ahead of me to just swing, and BE!

I am not sure if I was “gone” for two minutes or twenty, but it was REALLY good. Something seems off… I open my eyes and here comes William. He climbs up with me.

He does not yet know the art of “Hammock”. As I have before, and as I will many times again, I decide to try and teach him. I talk to him in a low soft voice. I tell him to relax his body and listen to the wind and the birds…

“And the cars!” he shouts….
“No William…You have to try to go away before the next car comes….Now just lie back, listen to the breeze tickling your ears…”

“Um, I think that is a horsefly dad!”

“KA-ZEEET-RACKLE” I destroy the horsefly with a hand held bug zapper.

“Wow! That really STINKS! Doesn’t it dad?”

“Yes Buddy, it does, now sit still, and relax…you are slowing down the hammock.”

I give it a little kick start. We are rocking again.

“Listen.” I tell him. “The birds have gone away because we have been so noisy…Rock…Rock… Rock slowly and listen…Try to speak to the birds in your mind, and bring them back.”

A quarter of a mile away there is the sound of a blue jay. “I can hear plenty of birds dad.”…..

“I know buddy…But we want them to come closer to us.” I tell him as an 18 wheeler hauling septage roars by…”we want them to come sit in the apple tree.”

“I think I smell Skinner buried under the tree…did something dig him up?” He asks of our poor old beagle, gone since January.

“No buddy, what you smell was that truck…Now just lay back and relax…”

“I don’t think I want to…I think I want to go in, it is too hot.” he says, as he jumps out of the hammock, and runs into the house.

The sky is blue again. The breeze is much hotter. I hear very distant thunder…Somebody else is getting my storm. But that’s OK with me….I still had a WONDERFUL afternoon!

Doug Alley

About Doug Alley

I grew up in Bath, Maine in an upper lower class family with 3 step sisters, a step brother, and a little sister. After high school I spent 3 years serving in the USAF at Elmendorf AFB in Anchorage AK. I've competed in, and won, demolition derbies. I've competed in, and never won, stock car races. I am the 47-year-old father of an 11-year-old boy who is pretty sure he is smarter than I ever was. We live on a little less than an acre of land in a 1973 mobile home in Stetson with my wife Jen, some cats, a few chickens, and rabbits, and a couple of goats. I hunt, fish, camp out, dabble in photography, gardening, and I cook in variable degrees of near success.